Researchers have developed an interactive web tool that, along with a smartphone, can be used to self-manage high blood pressure effectively. Blood pressure medication combined with changes in lifestyle gives good results, but despite awareness of this, few people are able to reach a well controlled blood pressure.
"The result showed statistical and clinical significance in lowering blood pressure between the first and last weeks of the study," said Ulrika Bengtsson, PhD student at the Sahlgrenska Academy of the Gothenburg University in Sweden.
The patients reported their blood pressure, pulse, medication intake, lifestyle, symptoms and state of well being in their mobile phones. The web system sent questions, individual lifestyle related and encouraging messages and reminders to the patient's mobile.
Graphic feedback was available on the Internet allowing the patients and their healthcare professionals to check blood pressure values in relation to other estimates, either on a specific day or over time. Systolic blood pressure, on average, was lowered by 7 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 4.9 mmHg. The reduction generally occurred during the first weeks and then stabilised.
The results showed that the use of the interactive system gave patients a better understanding of the connection between their lifestyle and their blood pressure. "The blood pressure reduction trend was fairly similar, regardless of the initial blood pressure level, blood pressure dropped," said Bengtsson.
The research shows how the use of an interactive system with questions and messages designed to act as a support in the treatment of high blood pressure can result in a reduction in blood pressure and function as a good basis for discussions and understanding of how the individual's lifestyle affects their blood pressure.
The development was carried out with a person centred approach in cooperation with the patients and healthcare professionals. The patients' shared their experiences, expectations and preferences in the development and evaluation of the system.
Fifty patients with high blood pressure participated in the study. The system was first evaluated after 8 weeks for its effect on blood pressure. In the next step, audio and video recordings of the follow-up discussions were analysed to examine how the patients' experiences of self-managing their condition impacted communication between patient and caregiver. The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension.