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Self-testing helps lower blood risks

GIVING patients responsibility for checking their own blood pressure has proved a success.

The blood pressure of those who used a new self-monitoring system at home dropped further than those who did not use it, new research has found.

The portable 'telemonitoring' system allows people to send blood pressure readings directly to medical staff.

Doctors and nurses then check the figures and, if necessary, contact the patient to discuss their health and medication.

Telemonitoring also encouraged doctors to prescribe – and patients to accept – more prescriptions of anti high blood pressure drugs, thereby reducing patients' blood pressure.

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

Around 400 people, aged 29-95, took part in the six-month trial at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Half of them received telemonitoring, while the remainder were given normal blood pressure care through their local GP surgery.

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



But telemonitoring did not encourage people to make lifestyle changes, such as reducing their salt intake or their weight, scientists found.

Professor Brian McKinstry said: "We believe 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 we can see that the reduction in blood pressure over six months can be achieved in the longer term and that it's cost-effective."