Healthy Living

Blood pressure treatment: Consistent tests, simple strategy

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If you have high blood pressure, it's not something you think about all the time. While there are ways to treat it, many patients can't seem to keep their levels under control. Now researchers say they've figured out a strategy that includes consistent testing and keeping things simple.

Dr. Don Conkling is a very busy veterinarian. His uncontrolled high blood pressure was putting his heart at risk.

"My blood pressure has been elevated since probably my late 30s," explained Conkling.

That's when he participated in a five-part hypertension control program.

"I don't believe we can really effectively address hypertension control by thinking about it every once in a while," said Dr. Marc Jaffe from Kaiser Permanente's South San Francisco Medical Center.

Jaffe enrolled 650 thousand patients in the five-point hypertension prevention program over a decade. Every two years, participants received the latest blood pressure treatment plans. Physicians and clinics were given feedback on how well patients were progressing, and patients received consistent blood pressure checks. But a big barrier to compliance -- complicated drug treatments.

"When they're on a medication, they require more than one medicine, some people require three or four, sometimes even more," said Dr. Edward Castro with White Memorial Medical Center.

In the study, those taking medications were given a single-pill combination drug.

"Using all those five components, we had over 80 percent hypertension control at the end, and compare that to about 44 percent hypertension control in the beginning in 2001," said Castro.

Castro says anything that can be done to simplify treatment and keep patients educated and informed can only help.

"Checking it in the pharmacy whenever you go in, making sure you know what your numbers are, and making sure you know what your goals are," said Castro.

Conkling says he felt he and his doctor were on the same team working together.

"My blood pressure is under control and I feel better than I have felt for the last 25 years. Things are looking up," Conkling said.

Researchers reported that two years after the study period ended, blood pressure control rates continued to improve.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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