New research has found that people who use regular telemonitoring of high blood pressure were about half as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to those who receive just routine primary care. The research published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension believes regular telemonitoring would be beneficial for all patients with high blood pressure, as it is the largest modifiable risk factor contributing to death from all causes in the United States.
Study author Karen L. Margolis, M.D., M.P.H., spoke about the study, saying, “Home blood pressure monitoring linked with treatment actions from the health care team delivered remotely (telehealth support) in between office visits has been shown to lower blood pressure more than routine care, and patients really like it. In addition, by avoiding serious cardiovascular events over five years, our results indicate significant cost savings.”
The study found that over five years, a heart attack, stroke, stent placement, or heart failure hospitalization occurred in 5.3% of patients who had regular telemonitoring. The occurrence in the routine primary care group was 10.4%.
While some critics may wonder about the cost of the telemonitoring services, it was found that the savings from reduced cardiovascular disease events exceeded the telemonitoring intervention costs by $1,900 per patient.
The Randomized Study
To reach these conclusions, researchers analyzed data from 450 participants with uncontrolled high blood pressure. Participants were split into two blind and randomized groups—222 patients received routine primary care, and 228 participants were enrolled in the telemonitoring group and also received one year of remote care managed by a pharmacist.
Patients in the telemonitoring group were able to measure their own blood pressure at home and send it electronically to the pharmacist. They were also able to work with the pharmacist to make medication and lifestyle changes to their treatment.
All participants had clinic visits where researchers monitored blood pressure at the start of the study, six months, 12 months, 18 months, and five years. They were also tracked for any heart attacks, strokes, coronary stents, heart failure hospitalizations, and heart-related deaths that occurred. All costs of their blood pressure-related care and cardiovascular event care were also recorded.
Based on the overall findings, researchers believe that “widespread adoption of the telemonitoring model might help U.S. adults with uncontrolled high blood pressure avoid serious cardiovascular events and reduce health care costs.” Future studies are needed to figure out how to increase the number of patients engaged in home blood pressure monitoring, and how cardiovascular risk may be reduced over an extended period of time.
Overall, patients reported that they liked having support from a trusted professional, which included feedback and adjustments to their treatments. They also indicated that having someone to be held accountable for was helpful for staying on track.