“If people are given the tools and techniques (to manage blood pressure), they can get better control,” – A Conversation With Nancy Houston-Miller, RN, BSN, FAHA

I was able to speak with Nancy Houston-Miller, RN, BSN, FAHA, about the future of blood pressure management today. She’s a national expert in the field, and has a research career spanning 30 years which has supported innovative ways to improve health. In the 1970’s her team established that patients could exercise to rehabilitate their hearts at home, rather than spending 6 weeks in the hospital.

I wanted to talk to Nancy about blood pressure, and specifically home monitoring, as a co-author and lead of the recent Call to Action by the American Heart Association, the American Society of Hypertension, and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association.

Her research has shown that the gold standard for blood pressure control should be the home, rather than office measurement, which is still where most blood pressure is managed (and with less then favorable results for most patients – about a third have adequate control, despite being well insured and with access to care). Nancy told me that control can be achieved using non-office based approaches, and her research has shown this. This is refreshing to hear especially in light of data indicating that it may becoming more difficult to control blood pressure. Could this be because of the “how” (office-visit-based) it’s being treated today?

What was the purpose of this conversation and where do we go from here? We think there is a good case for planting the seed for patient and family involvement in care for all chronic illnesses, using patient-centered technology, by starting here. As Nancy told me on the phone:

72 million Americans have high blood pressure, only a third have it under control, and they are at huge risk for kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke

High blood pressure may account for 27% of total CVD events in women, and 37% in men, 14% of heart attacks in men, 30% of heart attacks in women. We know the science of managing blood pressure, and the ways it can be managed best (by patients), why not empower them to do it, and empower them to help us design the ways to do it (see next post)

Stay tuned….

Ted Eytan, MD