Hypertension patients: How often do you talk to your doctor about your blood pressure? Current guidelines recommend that patients with “uncomplicated hypertension” should consult their doctor at once a month. That’s the theory. In practice, it is more like every 3 or 4 months.
Well, a recent study shows that talking to your doctor regularly, say, every 2 weeks or even more frequently, can actually help keep your blood pressure under control.
According to lead author Dr Alexander Turchin of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA (source: heartwire):
“Patients’ blood pressure normalized much faster if they saw their physician frequently. [This] may be common sense, there have been no data to prove this. Ours is the first large study to really show that there might be an association.”
The study looked at 502 diabetic patienst with hypertension and analyzed their doctor encounter frequency. Those who had encounter frequency of once a month or less had their BP normalized faster (median of 1.5 months at the rate of 28.7 mm Hg/month). Those whose encounter was less frequency took longer to have their BP normalized.
“Shorter encounter intervals are associated with faster decrease in BP and earlier BP normalization. Greatest benefits were observed at encounter intervals of two weeks or less, shorter than what is currently recommended.”
The authors believe that there is a lot to improve when it comes to adherence to the frequency of patient-doctor contact. For those with more complication condition and comorbidities (e.g. hypertensive diabetic patients), this is especially crucial in keeping BP in control.
Ok, so it is such a hassle to visit the doctor very often. The authors point out that there are more “creative ways” of improving care and increasing compliance. Patient-doctor encounter need not be face-to-face
Dr. Turchin points out:
Nowadays, technology is available for remote consulting such as by phone or using the Internet. Both doctors and patients should make use of this technology.
As the National High Blood Pressure Education Month in the US come to a close, we bring some more resources: