Researchers have found that people with hypertension using at-home blood pressure monitoring devices that had their results observed by a remote healthcare professional had lower blood pressure than those who relied solely on practice-based readings.
The Oxford University researchers found the patients who managed their high blood pressure from home were also more likely to have their treatment adjusted by a healthcare professional than those patients who managed their hypertension via face-to-face consultations.
The Home and Online Management and Evaluation of Blood Pressure (HOME BP) randomised controlled trial evaluated the outcomes of 622 participants aged 18 or over with hypertension, half of whom managed their blood pressure at home.
Patients who were self-monitoring with an Omron M3 monitor were given online access to a GP who could adjust drug treatment based on their blood pressure readings.
The web-based system offered patients reminders and lifestyle advice including tips on diet, weight-loss and exercise, as well as salt and alcohol reduction. It also provided motivational support, behavioural support and predetermined drug changes.
Professor Richard McManus – the trial lead – GP and professor of Primary Care at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, suggested the timely relevance of the research.
During the pandemic, GPs have had to work behind closed doors, meaning many patients had to speak to their doctor virtually or over the phone.
‘At a time when many people are unfortunately unable to visit their GP in person, this digital and remote approach could provide a simple way for GPs to effectively manage hypertension in many members of their community, reducing their need to visit the practice for regular check-ups.’
Professor Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research within Medicine at the University of Southampton, commented: ‘Given the trial results, if this approach was implemented at scale then we would expect it to result in a reduction of 10 to 15 per cent in patients having a stroke and a reduction of five to 10 per cent in patients experiencing coronary events.
He added: ‘With a low marginal cost, this could make a major difference to the millions of people being treated for hypertension in the UK and worldwide.’