Lower Blood Pressure is Just an E-mail Away

Blood pressure Email support helps patients

(RxWiki News) As technology has improved so have the variety of ways available to manage high blood pressure. Managing hypertension and enhancing the quality of your life might be as simple as an e-mail support program.

E-counseling has been shown to help patients significantly lower their blood pressure and improve their  lifestyle, as well as increase their survival rate.

"Ask your doctor about support programs for hypertension."

Dr. Robert Nolan, a researcher with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, said that e-counseling has the potential to strengthen the effects of medical treatment for high blood pressure. As compared to people who did not participate in the e-mail support program, participants nearly doubled their decreases in blood pressure.

Researchers enrolled 387 individuals between the ages of 45 and 74 in the four month study. All of the participants had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and 72 percent of them were taking at least one daily medication for hypertension.

One group received a standard e-newsletter from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, containing heart health information and general tips to manage their health. The second group received eight e-mails over the four month period that contained both educational information and motivational messages. Participants were followed for a year.

Those encouraging messages were tailored to participants who had previously filled out surveys identifying changes they wanted to make such as exercising more regularly or quitting smoking.

These participants were able to lower their blood pressure significantly over the group who only received the newsletter. In addition, the e-counseling was associated with improvement in diet and exercise behavior. Researchers concluded the e-counseling motivated participants to stay on track with diet and exercise, which leads to lower blood pressure.

Investigators also found that the moods were improved among patients who received e-mail counseling, which is significant because depression can have a negative impact on blood pressure, particularly by causing them to lose interest in exercising and eating healthy.

Other benefits that Dr. Nolan noted included connecting to older participants who had felt isolated, and the cost effectiveness of the program as support for regular office visits.

Dr. Nolan next plans to conduct a longer and larger clinical trial to determine whether e-counseling can aid patients in regularly taking their blood pressure medications.

The finding was recently presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2011, which is co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

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Review Date: 
October 26, 2011