High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, occurs when the pressure inside your arteries is higher than it should be. One in three American adults has high blood pressure, and if not controlled, it can cause damage to your eyes, brain, heart, blood vessels and kidney. As a result, high blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart attack, stroke and death. High blood pressure has no warning signs or symptoms, so monitoring your blood pressure is very important because it is the only way we can know for sure if it is under good control.
A New Approach to Treating High Blood Pressure
For decades, high blood pressure has been treated in the doctor’s office. Most patients will have anywhere from two to four doctor visits per year and the blood pressure information obtained on those visits form the basis for further treatment decisions. This method has several problems:
- A small number of blood pressure readings
- A long period between readings for adjustments in medicine to take place (i.e. needed changes in medication or dosing)
- What has been called “White Coat Hypertension.” This can occur in some individuals due to anxiety in coming to the doctor’s office, thus leading to false high blood pressure readings.
A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that monitoring blood pressure from home using a wireless blood pressure monitor resulted in more patients reaching their blood pressure goal than the standard doctor’s office method. This was done using specially trained pharmacists who received the blood pressure readings automatically and called patients with any needed changes to their therapy. Patients had a high satisfaction rating for the program overall, and the resulting better blood pressure reading would lead to less strokes and heart attacks in the future.
The Ochsner Hypertension Digital Medicine Program
The Ochsner Hypertension Digital Medicine Program operates the same way. We enroll patients who need to control their high blood pressure. Patients will receive in-depth education on high blood pressure and the lifestyle changes they can make to improve their blood pressure. In addition, specially trained pharmacists receive the blood pressure readings and use this and other data to make treatment changes or medication adjustments as needed to insure good blood pressure control. Pharmacists follow the most current evidence-based guidelines to treat high blood pressure (Eighth Joint National Committee Guideline, JNC8).