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At-home blood-pressure checks might help, but you need advice too

October 6, 2009 | 12:46 pm

Monitor Most people with high blood pressure don't have the condition under control, increasing their risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. So researchers at Duke University explored whether some low-key, at-home measures can make a difference.

The study (full version available), published online today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, is summed up in this way:

"In this trial, 636 patients with hypertension were randomly assigned to receive usual care; a telephone-delivered, nurse-administered behavioral self-management intervention; home blood pressure self-monitoring; or both of the latter two interventions. Compared with usual care, the adjusted improvement in the proportion of patients with blood pressure control at 24 months was 4.3% for the behavioral intervention group, 7.6% for the blood pressure monitoring group, and 11.0% for the combined intervention group."

In short, the combined approach of at-home checks and regular chats with a nurse was moderately effective; the single-tactic approaches weren't especially.

The researchers quite fairly point out that it's difficult to draw broad generalizations from the study, saying many participants did, in fact, have their blood pressure under control at the beginning of the study. And, too, the work was done through an academic health center, which couldn't be the case for everyone.

Nevertheless, the results back up earlier research suggesting that home interventions have some promise -- and that the costs are minimal. These days, that's no small thing.

For an earlier Los Angeles Times story about monitoring blood pressure at home, "Tracking a silent killer," click here.

Plus, tips from FamilyDoctor.org on how to do this properly.

And more on high blood pressure from eMedicineHealth -- causes, symptoms, treatment. ...

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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