Only 48% of people aged 50 to 80 who take blood pressure medication or have a medical condition affected by hypertension regularly check their blood pressure at home or elsewhere, a new study shows.
A slightly higher number — but still only 62% — say their health care provider encouraged them to have such tests. Respondents whose doctors recommended that they measure their blood pressure at home were three and a half times more likely to do so than those who did not recall receiving such a recommendation.
The findings highlight the importance of studying the reasons why at-risk patients don’t check their blood pressure and why providers don’t recommend it, as well as finding ways to encourage more people with such conditions to check their blood pressure regularly. This could play an important role in helping patients live longer and maintain heart and brain health, the study authors say.
Past research has shown that regular home monitoring can help control blood pressure, and that better control can mean a lower risk of death; cardiovascular events, including strokes and heart attacks; and cognitive impairment and dementia.
The findings are published in JAMA Network Open by a team from Michigan Medicine, an academic medical center at the University of Michigan. The data comes from the National Survey on Healthy Aging and builds on a report released last year.
The survey, conducted by the UM Institute for Health Policy and Innovation and supported by Michigan Medicine and AARP, asked adults ages 50 to 80 about their chronic health conditions, out-of-clinic blood pressure monitoring and interactions with health care providers about blood pressure. Study authors Melanie V. Springer, MD, MS, from the Department of Neurology at Michigan Medicine, and Deborah Levin, MD, MPH, from the Department of Internal Medicine, worked with the NPHA team to develop the survey questions and analyze the results.
The data in the new paper comes from 1,247 respondents who said they were either taking medication to control their blood pressure or had a chronic medical condition that required blood pressure control — specifically, stroke, coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease or hypertension.
Of these, 55% said they had a blood pressure monitor, although some said they never used one. Among those using it, there was wide variation in how often they checked their blood pressure – and only about half said they shared their readings with a healthcare professional. But those with a monitor are more than 10 times more likely to have their blood pressure checked outside of a health care facility than those without one.
The authors note that blood pressure monitoring is associated with blood pressure reduction and is cost-effective. They say the results suggest the need to develop protocols to educate patients about the importance of self-monitoring of blood pressure and sharing readings with clinicians.