Modest Interventions Can Improve Blood Pressure

Low-cost VA initiative improves patient blood pressure control an overall 4.2 percent
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 17 (HealthDay News) -- A series of modest and inexpensive interventions to educate patients, nurses and physicians on blood pressure management improved blood pressure control significantly in a Veterans Affairs quality improvement initiative, reported online June 16 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Neesha N. Choma, M.D., of the Veterans Affairs Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in Nashville, and colleagues implemented the initiative targeting patients, nurses and physicians at two hospitals, five outpatient clinics, and four contract clinics. Interventions included new nurse hypertension protocol and checklist, patient education during primary care visits by nurses and a patient blood pressure wallet card, and dissemination to physicians of VA recommendations for blood pressure diagnosis and management. The interventions lasted eight weeks followed by 18 weeks of observation during which there were 55,586 patient blood pressure visits. The researchers calculated changes in blood pressure control at the different sites.

Following the interventions, the researchers reported an overall improvement of 4.2 percent in blood pressure control. The outpatient clinics had the greatest improvement with an 8.6 percent improvement, followed by the contract clinics with a 1.5 percent improvement. The two hospitals improved by 1.4 percent and 0.8 percent. Results persisted for one year after the intervention.

"Our initiative demonstrates that implementing small, focused, and inexpensive interventions can increase the number of patients with hypertension who achieve recommended levels of control," the authors write.

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