Home blood pressure tests 'improves health'

Blood pressure
Image caption High blood pressure leads to an estimated 62,000 premature deaths a year in the UK from stroke and heart disease

A portable machine which lets people measure their own blood pressure and send results directly to doctors is said to have improved patient health.

Researchers at Edinburgh University found that the blood pressure of people who used a self-monitoring system dropped further than those who did not.

Patients who used the system were more willing to accept medication and take it properly, the study suggested.

About 400 people aged 29-95 took part in the six-month trial.

Half of them used the "telemonitoring" system while the remainder were given normal blood pressure care through their local GP surgery.

The portable system allowed patients to send readings to doctors and nurses, who then checked the figures and, if necessary, contacted the patient to discuss their health and medication.

Premature deaths

Every year high blood pressure leads to more than seven million premature deaths across the globe through heart disease and stroke, experts say.

In the UK there are estimated to be about 62,000 unnecessary deaths a year from stroke and heart problems because of poor blood pressure control.

Doctors say that despite the availability of effective drugs, controlling high blood pressure in health centres and GP practices is poor because of infrequent monitoring.

They say that reluctance by doctors to increase medication, and of patients to take drugs properly, also plays a role.

But using "telemonitoring" had little impact on people's lifestyle, such as their salt consumption level or weight management, scientists found.

Professor Brian McKinstry, from Edinburgh University's Centre for Population Health Sciences, said: "We believe that telemonitoring has the potential to be implemented in many healthcare settings.

"Before this happens, however, we would recommend testing it out on a much larger scale so that we can see that the reduction in blood pressure over six months can be achieved in the longer term and that it is cost-effective."

The study was supported by Bupa Foundation, the Chief Scientist Office Scotland, the High Blood Pressure Foundation and NHS Lothian.

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