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Self-Management can be better than Doctors for Blood Pressure Care

Update Date: Aug 27, 2014 01:22 PM EDT

When caring for many chronic health conditions, having a doctor to monitor progress can be extremely helpful. However, according to a new study, when it comes to blood pressure measurements and medical care, self-management might trump professional medical care.

In this study, the researchers headed by Richard McManus, a professor and researcher at the University of Oxford, recruited 450 older adults with an average age of 70. The participants had a history of heart problems, strokes, diabetes or kidney disease. Half of the sample received usual care from their doctors whereas the other half did self-care. Self-care involved measuring blood pressure levels at home and adjusting medications based on the levels. The patients self-managed their chronic condition with the help of a treatment plan that was created by their doctors at the beginning of the study.

The researchers found that by the end of the study, blood pressure readings fell from 143 over 90, which was the average reading at the start of the study, to 128 over 74 in the self-care group. In the usual-care group, the blood pressure readings dropped to 138 over 76. A high blood pressure measurement is anything above 140 over 90. The researchers stated that if the blood pressure levels in the self-care group can be maintained, these patients would have a 30 percent lower risk of suffering from a stroke in comparison to the patients from the usual-care group.

"I think we're moving in that direction," said Dr. Laura Svetkey, a hypertension specialist at Duke University, who was not a part of the study, said according to Philly. "There's tremendous motivation to control health care costs and a parallel trend toward giving patients a bigger role in their decision-making and management."

The study, "Effect of Self-monitoring and Medication Self-titration on Systolic Blood Pressure in Hypertensive Patients at High Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. The TASMIN-SR Randomized Clinical Trial," was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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