- A study by Stanford University School of Medicine reveals gaps in routine blood pressure screenings, with only 56% of overall patient visits involving a blood pressure measurement.
- Only 39% of patients receiving treatment for hypertension successfully maintained recommended blood pressure levels.
- Among patients with hypertension, and additional diagnosis of diabetes or kidney disease, only 20% achieved controlled blood pressure.
- Frequent blood pressure screenings and comprehensive strategies focusing on lifestyle changes and medication plans are recommended to manage hypertension effectively.
- Adopting a plant-based diet, along with weight loss, sodium reduction, and regular physical activity, can form part of the lifestyle changes for better hypertension control.
An apparent increase in unchecked blood pressure concerns continues as medical practitioners seemingly skirt routine screenings. Despite widespread knowledge of the risks carried by high blood pressure, a newly conducted investigation reveals gaps in its monitoring and management in the healthcare facilities.
Key Findings from the Unsettling Study
The study, facilitated by the Stanford University School of Medicine and documented in the respected medical journal, Hypertension, shared some eye-opening insights concerning the practices of private physicians in the U.S.:
- In only 56 percent of overall patient visits was blood pressure measured, and remarkably, the number reached 93 percent for individuals pre-diagnosed with hypertension.
- Of the patients receiving treatment for hypertension, a meager 39 percent were documented as maintaining the recommended blood pressure figures.
- Among patients with hypertension, who were also diagnosed with diabetes or kidney disease, only 20 percent demonstrated controlled blood pressure.
Dr. Randall Stafford, the co-author of the study and an associate professor at Stanford Prevention Research Center, emphasized the pressing need for more regular screenings during office visits. He advocated for intensive lifestyle modifications and dual medication treatment to manage this silent killer.
The Underlining Data Source and Ramifications
The study was grounded on data from a 2003-04 federal survey that recorded the services performed in the private U.S. physician offices. It highlighted details like the use of the blood pressure cuff, the appropriateness of the prescribed medications, and the success of the treatment plan.
High blood pressure, deemed to be one of the key and avoidable risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and kidney diseases, impacts more than 65 million people in the United States. The absence of symptoms associated with high blood pressure, often coined as “the silent killer”, contributes to the subpar level of care, according to the researchers of the study.
Bridging the Gap in Patient Care
Without any noticeable changes, many patients discontinue their prescribed medications, ignore the doctor’s advice, or do not show up for follow-up visits. This non-adherence to the medical plan was confirmed by Dr. Jun Ma, an associate staff scientist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute.
Closer monitoring via routine blood pressure screenings could help narrow this healthcare gap. Dr. Stafford recommends adopting a comprehensive strategy, which involves outlining lifestyle changes to the patient, explaining the treatments clearly, and highlighting the significance of taking multiple medications for blood pressure control. Such lifestyle adjustments include weight loss, sodium reduction, embracing a plant-based diet, and regular physical activity.
The American Heart Association offers more information on high blood pressure.