Managing hypertension in urban underserved subjects using telemedicine—A clinical trial

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Abstract

Background

We evaluated an Internet- and telephone-based telemedicine system for reducing blood pressure (BP) in underserved subjects with hypertension.

Methods

A total of 241 patients with systolic BP ≥140 mm Hg were randomized to usual care (C; n = 121) or telemedicine (T; n = 120). The T group reported BP, heart rate, weight, steps/day, and tobacco use twice weekly. The primary outcome was BP control at 6 months.

Results

Average age was 59.6 years, average body mass index was 33.7 kg/m2, 79% were female, 81% were African American, 15% were white, 53% were at or below the federal poverty level, 18% were smokers, and 32% had diabetes. Six-month follow-up was achieved in 206 subjects (C: 107, T: 99). Goal BP was achieved in 52.3% in C and 54.5% in T (P = .43). Systolic BP change (C: −13.9 mm Hg, T: −18.2; P = .118) was similar in both groups. Subjects in the T group reported BP 7.7 ± 6.9 d/mo. Results were not affected by age, sex, ethnicity, education, or income. In nondiabetic T subjects, goal BP was achieved in 58.2% compared with 45.2% of diabetic T subjects (P = .024). Nondiabetic T subjects demonstrated a greater reduction in systolic BP (T: −19 ± 20 mm Hg, C: −12 ± 19 mm Hg; P = .037). No difference in BP response between C and T was noted in patients with diabetes.

Conclusion

In hypertensive subjects, engagement in a system of care with or without telemedicine resulted in significant BP reduction. Telemedicine for nondiabetic patients resulted in a greater reduction in systolic BP compared with usual care. Telemedicine may be a useful tool for managing hypertension particularly among nondiabetic subjects.

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