Lower Blood Pressure A Phone Call Away

Hypertension improved through pharmacist phone support

(RxWiki News) Dropping high blood pressure might be just a phone call away. A new study has found that telephone support from pharmacists can help patients lower their blood pressure.

The finding suggested that the regular telephone consultations aided hypertension patients as compared to those who do not receive added support.

"Ask your doctor about hypertension support programs."

Karen Margolis, MD, MPH, the study’s lead author and director of clinical research of HealthPartners Research Foundation, noted that blood pressure is controlled in only about half of U.S. patients, even with an average of four doctor visits a year.

During the study researchers followed 450 hypertension patients, with half assigned to traditional care through primary care providers and the remainder assigned to telemonitoring support from a pharmacist. That group also met with their primary care doctor.

Patients in the intervention group checked their blood pressure at home and electronically submitted the results to a web site. Pharmacists reviewed the blood pressure readings and consulted with the patients by phone every two to four weeks.

Investigators took blood pressure readings of all patients at a clinic at the beginning of the study. Six months later measurements were again taken in 403 of the patients.

Investigators found that after six months, 72 percent in the intervention group and 45 percent in the traditional care group had reduced their blood pressure to healthy levels. Patients in the intervention group also saw greater declines in blood pressure, averaging 126/76 mm Hg as compared to 138/82 mm Hg in the group that did not receive phone support. The average blood pressure reading at the beginning of the study was 145/85 mm Hg.

Blood pressure is considered healthy when it is below 140/90 mm Hg, or 130/80 mm Hg in those with diabetes or kidney disease.

Intervention group participants also received more blood pressure medications and were better at remembering to consistently take hypertension drugs.

“These early results suggest that home blood pressure telemonitoring with extra telephone care by a pharmacist was very effective in improving blood pressure control,” Dr. Margolis said. “If these early results can be sustained over the long run, it might decrease the number of patients who suffer heart attacks, strokes or other complication of high blood pressure.”

The patients are still being monitored to assess the effectiveness long-term. Researchers noted the study participants were health conscious and results could differ for less motivated individuals.

The study was presented Thursday at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Review Date: 
May 10, 2012