More control for those with hypertension

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
June 24, 2008 4:13:29 PM PDT
Patients with high blood pressure can now increase their chances of controlling it.Doctors say it is all in how you use the internet to help the one out of every three adults who has high blood pressure, a dangerous disease that can propel a patient towards stroke, heart attacks and kidney disease. A recent study looks at using an online partner, a pharmacist, to help keep blood pressure under control.

Paul Johnson says it happened quickly, his blood pressure, all of a sudden, was high.

"I think the highest initial values that I can remember my blood pressure being were 185, maybe 190 over 95," he said. "And yes, that worried me a great deal."

So, along with 800 other men and women trying to bring down their high blood pressure, Paul enrolled in a new study testing a new two-step plan.

The first step was home monitoring, and the second was e-mailing a registered pharmacist online. The researchers wanted to see if these steps would bring their hypertension under control.

And they concluded it did help.

"We proved in this trial that you can actually use web communications, that patients don't have to come in," pharmacist Dr. Danette Feuling said. "They can use the internet to receive care."

The people in the study tested three different methods. One group received usual care, one used a home monitor to test at home and the third group used the home monitor and, every two weeks, communicated via a Web site with a registered pharmacist.

After 12 months, 56 percent of the group using both the home monitoring and communicating with the online pharmacist had blood pressure control. That is compared to 31 percent of those receiving usual care.

"Patients with more severe hypertension are typically very hard to control, and actually, they did the best," Dr. Feuling said. "They were almost, they were more than three times likely to have improved blood pressure control at the end of the study."

"They were able to communicate with us on their own time and get constant feedback," family physician Dr. Beverly Green said.

Paul's blood pressure is now about 125 over 65. He says being aware of his blood pressure daily allowed him to make good decisions about diet and his medication.

Researchers say at the end of the study, those who received Web-based care were on more medication and often at higher doses than patients who received usual care. They say pharmacists added drugs when needed and used an electronic medical record system to communicate with patients.