Regular talks with health care providers can help control blood pressure

A patient has her blood pressure checked.
A patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt., June 6, 2013.
Toby Talbot | AP 2013

HealthPartners researchers studied 450 people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. About half of them were randomly selected to have routine phone call check-ins about their blood pressure with a pharmacist. They were also equipped to transmit at-home blood pressure checks to their primary clinic six times a week.

Study lead Dr. Karen Margolis said the patients doing enhanced monitoring were twice as likely to lower their blood pressure as the others.

"About 70 percent of the patients who did this special program got their blood pressure under control in the first six months and they stayed under good control through about 18 months," Margolis said.

The study is published in a Journal of the American Medical Association.

Margolis said the findings represent a strong argument to offer patients enhanced monitoring options. A follow-up study found that after the special monitoring stops its benefits begin to fade.

"This works for a pretty prolonged period of time even after people are no longer regularly in touch with the pharmacist but eventually people fall out of control, so it makes sense I think to continue these programs long-term," Margolis said.

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