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Blood Pressure Too High? Get a Wallet Card

Study Shows a Simple Information Card Goes a Long Way in Controlling Blood Pressure
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June 16, 2009 -- Small steps can produce big results when it comes to keeping high blood pressure under control.

A new study shows educating people with high blood pressure about their condition and giving them attainable goals can help them lower their blood pressure without expensive interventions.

Researchers found that raising awareness about current and target blood pressure levels using a wallet information card helped a large group of veterans with high blood pressure improve their blood pressure levels by 4.2%.

"On a population level, a 4.2 percent improvement can result in a large benefit because a ... reduction in blood pressure translates into major benefits in prevention of stroke, heart attack and congestive heart failure," says researcher Christianne L. Roumie, MD, MPH, in a news release. Roumie is an assistant professor of internal medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

More than 50 million Americans have high blood pressure, and researchers say the results show that small, focused, and inexpensive tools like this can play a vital role in high blood pressure treatment.

In the study, published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, researchers evaluated a multifaceted patient education program designed to improve high blood pressure treatment in a group of about 50,000 veterans in the VA-Tennessee Valley Healthcare System.

At each visit to the clinic, the participants received information about their current blood pressure level and target blood pressure level, which was 140/90.

They also received a wallet card that included areas for tracking their current and goal blood pressure levels, list of medications, lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure, and proposed questions to ask at each visit, among other things.

The card was completed by the health care provider and discussed with the patient at each visit. The participants were asked to keep the card, record their own blood pressures, and present it for updates.

After 40 weeks of observation, researchers found an additional 2,335 of the participants had lowered their high blood pressure to within the goal level.

"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," says Roumie in the news release. "It is important for patients to be actively involved with their healthcare team to improve the quality of their care and get their blood pressure to goal."

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