Online Care Helps Control Blood Pressure

    June 25, 2008

People with high blood pressure have a better chance of managing the condition by using the Internet according to a report in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Beverly B. Green, at the University of Washington in Seattle, and other researchers examined if high blood pressure could be monitored over the Internet without having to visit a doctor.

"Our demographic was middle-aged, working people for whom Web-based care is particularly convenient, particularly for reporting BP numbers and simple or structured communications," Green told Reuters Health.

The clinical trial looked at 778 people with uncontrolled high blood pressure and access to the Internet. They were divided randomly with some receiving traditional care, or home blood pressure monitoring and online training, or home monitoring, online training, and management by a pharmacist online.

The Internet allowed people to email their doctors to refill prescriptions, make appointments, receive test results, and find health information.

After one year, around one third of the people in the first two groups were able to get their blood pressure to a normal level. More than half of those who received online care managed by a pharmacist were able to get their blood pressure to normal.

"Web communication (e-mail and secure messaging) improves health care because it is always available (24/7), allows people to respond at a time that is convenient to them, and often in a much briefer way than over the telephone or certainly during an in-person visit," said Green.

Green said future studies are planned that will examine managing other chronic conditions like diabetes.