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    Program Boosts Blood-Pressure Control for Patients

    Single-pill approach, large patient registry among key points for success in study


    The program also traded information about successful strategies among clinics. Kaiser clinics that achieved high rates of control shared their practices with other clinics, which then initiated them. The program also used evidence-based practice guidelines in guiding treatment.

    Medical assistants were used for follow-up visits to monitor blood pressure. The medical assistants were not registered nurses or licensed vocational nurses, but were specially trained personnel who monitored blood pressure and other vital signs, Jaffe said.

    "I think a lot of these components would be applicable to other centers," he said. Although the study did not examine whether blood-pressure control results in cost savings due to fewer hospitalizations and other fees, Jaffe said he believes it would.

    Dr. Abhinav Goyal, an associate professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, said the improvement in blood-pressure control was impressive.

    "This could work in other settings, provided they are willing to put forth the same long-term commitment and resources that Kaiser did to make the program work," said Goyal, who co-wrote an editorial to accompany the study.

    Those with high blood pressure and other chronic conditions "should be aware that health systems are responding to the change in American health care by taking a more population-based approach to controlling chronic disease risk factors," he said. "Physicians will continue to be an important part of the process, but no longer the center of every visit."

    Although the study focused on the five points of the program, Jaffe said, there is much those with high blood pressure can do on their own to control it. "Avoid tobacco, control your weight, get regular physical activity and eat a heart-healthy diet," he said. "This can make a big difference."

    "What this study shows is, it's about a partnership," he said. "You should partner with your health care team."

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