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Little Steps Add Up to Major Reductions in Blood Pressure

Boosting patients' awareness lowers risk of stroke and heart trouble, study found

TUESDAY, June 16, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Small measures can turn high blood pressure around, and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and heart failure, finds a new study that examined efforts to boost patients' awareness of current and target blood pressure.

These measures can be as simple as carrying a blood-pressure wallet card to track clinic visits, document blood pressure and update medications, the researchers found.

The VA-Tennessee Valley Healthcare System distributed more than 30,000 blood pressure wallet cards to patients, aged 18 to 90. This and other inexpensive methods resulted in a 4.2 percent improvement in blood pressure control, according to the study published in the current issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

"On a population level, a 4.2 percent improvement can result in a large benefit because a few millimeters of mercury reduction in blood pressure translates into major benefits in prevention of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure," study author Dr. Christianne L. Roumie, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., said in an American Heart Association news release.

"In my opinion, the blood-pressure wallet card has been the most beneficial of the patient-education interventions because it gives the patient a lot of control over their own chronic illness," Roumie said. "It is important for patients to be actively involved with their health-care team to improve the quality of their care and get their blood pressure to goal."

All health-care groups should identify barriers to improving care and control of high blood pressure and develop interventions to overcome those barriers, Roumie recommended.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians explains what you can do to lower high blood pressure.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, June 16, 2009
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