Until today, many people with hypertension are often untreated or undertreated. This is especially true for those in underdeveloped areas who cannot afford to go to hospitals for proper checkups. Doctors and researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital developed a new program which can help people treat hypertension at the confines of their home.
Horrors of Hypertension
Hypertension, aka high blood pressure, is a prevalent clinical problem which affects many adults. According to 2016 statistics, at least 1.13 billion people globally are suffering from high blood pressure. The condition also accounts for about 12.8 percent of total deaths and 3.7 percent of total disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).
Raised blood pressure is also related to coronary heart diseases, strokes, and heart failure. Still only about half of hypertension patients receive proper treatment.
New Home-Based Program
The new home-based, care-delivery program for hypertension aims to control high blood pressure at a significantly lower cost than going to clinics or hospitals. It uses a clinical algorithm developed by hypertension specialists.
“The time-honored model of treating hypertension via traditional visits to the doctor is neither effective nor sustainable. Development of innovative solutions to manage hypertension effectively and efficiently, and thus reduce the cardiovascular risk burden in larger populations, is critical. Organizations can and should develop and adopt innovative technologies to create sustainable solutions for the control of hypertension.”Naomi Fisher, MD, director of the Hypertension Service and Hypertension Specialty Clinic at the Brigham
In the program, patients are required to measure their BP at home twice daily, morning and evening in duplicate and always before taking their regular antihypertensive medications. The measurements are uploaded into customized computer software that can calculate weekly BP averages. The patients will be alerted of their diagnosis by the software, thus there will be
For those whose BP is still elevated, they will have their medications adjusted. The adjustments will follow the clinical algorithm as outlined in the software platform. There will be pharmacists to review the adjustments and sign new prescriptions. The patients can have a telephone consultation about their diagnosis and new prescriptions with a non-medical patient navigator. The patients will graduate from the program once control of their blood pressure is reached.
Testing the Effectively
In a paper published in Clinical Cardiology, the new program was tested on 130 patients. Results revealed that the program helped about 81 percent of the patients control their blood pressure in an average of seven weeks.
The participants were given a Bluetooth-enabled device that could transmit BP measurements the patients took at home into their electronic medical records in the software. They were also given access to patient navigators and were monitored by nurses for safety.
“This is a striking result, especially given the very short time frame in which control was reached: an average of seven weeks. There are a few notable health care systems that have matched or exceeded this control rate, but most clinical practices do not approach this rate of success.”Naomi Fisher, MD, director of the Hypertension Service and Hypertension Specialty Clinic at the Brigham