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A New Approach to Controlling Your Blood Pressure

Friday, May 18, 2012

 

The Task Force on Community Preventive Services is recommending team-based care for those struggling to control their blood pressure.

The recommendation comes on the back of strong evidence suggesting that a team of medical professionals, often consisting of a physician, a nurse, a pharmacist and a dietitian, are more effective than a single professional at improving a patient’s blood pressure. This evidence comes from a series of studies that found that using a medical team increased the proportion of patients that were able to control their blood pressure.

Dr. Robert Phillips of UMass Memorial Medical Center says that, while these findings may appear to be obvious, they have real applications to clinical care.

“People may look at this study and think it's pointing out something obvious,” Dr. Phillips said. “But because of all the costs in health care, it is important to find out what leads to incremental improvements. Especially with hypertension, something that affects so many people.”

The task force's research found that the greatest blood pressure improvement came when each member of the patient’s medical team could change medications independently, or with the approval of the primary care provider. Dr. Phillips says that UMass Medical is still in the process of figuring out what the best medical team is.

“It looks like, to us, if you have a physician, a pharmacist and a nurse practitioner involved, that’s a pretty good team,” Dr. Phillips said. “But we’ve also been exploring including other professionals to make this even better. We’re still trying to find the optimal combination.”

Team members would be responsible for supplementing the activities of the primary care provider. This would include medication management, patient follow up and helping the patient adhere to their blood pressure control plan.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, believes using team-based care would dramatically reduce the negative side effects of high blood pressure.

“Adoption of this model throughout the United States would improve blood pressure control for the 68 million adult Americans who have high blood pressure, (and) reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke and other health problems,” Dr. Frieden said. “The analysis shows that when primary care physicians and other health care professionals with different expertise and approaches work together to support their patients, they can find the right formula for getting blood pressure under control.” 

 

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