August 18, 2022 — Here’s another vote for less screen time. Tracking blood pressure with a smartphone app won’t lead to a bigger drop in blood pressure than just self-monitoring with the kind of device doctors typically suggest using at home.
That’s according to a new study of patients with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, who were randomly placed into one of two groups. Half of the study participants self-measured their blood pressure with a standard monitor alone. These devices consist of a measuring unit attached to a cuff made of a piece of rubber or similar material that is wrapped around your arm and then inflated to measure your blood pressure. The other half, or second group, self-measured their blood pressure using the standard device coupled with a connected smartphone app.
Both groups achieved almost identical reductions in blood pressure (about 11 points in systolic blood pressure – the highest figure) over 6 months, said they were satisfied with the monitoring process and shared their readings with their doctors at a similar frequency.
The study looked at 2,101 adults, usually middle-aged or older, who said they would try to lower their blood pressure by at least 10 points.
“By itself, self-measured standard blood pressure has minimal effect on BP control,” wrote lead author Mark J. Pletcher, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues at JAMA internal medicine. Really improving blood pressure control also requires patients to be provided with feedback, advice, or other opportunities for intervention.
The researchers also saw other similar results between the two study groups. For example, 70% of those who used the app said they would recommend following the process used to track their blood pressure to a friend, compared to 69% of participants who followed the standard approach.
New devices linked to smartphone apps, like the one used in this trial, send blood pressure measurements to the patient’s smartphone. Apps track measurements, interpret results, and can send reminders to measure blood pressure and take medication. They also offer recommendations for a healthier lifestyle and provide tips for discussing your blood pressure with your doctor, among other things, the researchers explained.
Pletcher noted that getting people to actively use health-related apps for long periods of time is difficult.
“There’s so much competition to get people’s attention on their phone,” he said.
But he didn’t give up on these apps, saying that “with the right technology, connectivity and user experience, they could still be a game-changer for managing” high blood pressure and other long-term health conditions. term.
Matthew Jung, MD, of the University of Southern California, says the study is notable for several reasons, including its large size, the similar level of comfort with technology reported by the two groups, and the representation of black and Hispanics.
But he also pointed out several limitations of the study, including that a third of those studied never confirmed receiving a device, less than half of the group assigned to use the app said they had received it. used and the study lasted only 10 weeks.