E-mail a powerful tool to help patients control blood pressure
Study shows patients keep blood pressure under control with internet help
Researchers found e-mails are a good way to help patients keep their blood pressure under control. The result e-counselling is fewer medical bills from hospitalizations and improved quality of life.
Dr. Robert Nolan presented the findings at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress.
"We found that it led to an almost double decrease in the blood pressure levels of participants compared to those who did not receive the e-counselling.”
The findings come from a year long study that measured whether e mailing hypertensive patients would actually help them keep their blood pressures lower.
The investigation also took into account patient perceptions of quality of life and looked at survival benefits from the program.
Each participant received a personalized plan of action that included how to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
The participants ranged in age from 45 to 74. All were taking one or more blood pressure lowering medication.
One group was sent a standard e-newsletter from the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Another group was given motivational messages and standard education about how to control blood pressure.
The group given personalized e-counselling was also given questionnaires addressing individual concerns like how to stop smoking, increasing their physical activity or following a healthier diet.
The e-mails sent to the second group were tailored to each person; then compared to patients with high blood pressure who just received standard education.
"We found the e-counselling was associated with an improvement in both exercise and diet behavior. The motivational component was therapeutic," said Dr. Nolan. "E-tools to promote healthy lifestyles are becoming an established success – it's the way of the future."
Patients who were sent e-mails had twice the amount of decrease in blood pressure, compared to the group who didn’t receive personalized e-counselling.
"This was a powerful tool to provide a connection to some of the older participants who were once isolated," says Dr. Nolan. "Seventy years ago someone would be standing in a doctor's office – flash forward to now and people's risks are being reduced in their own homes through the power of e-support."
Nolan says the next step is to find out if the internet e-mails can help people stay on their blood pressure medications. He suggests e-counselling may be a way to cut health care costs and extend resources to patients without placing a burden on the health system.
Source: Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada
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