Friday, January 29, 2016

Managing blood pressure and similar chronic diseases with mobile technology was the premise of a recent study by researchers from Oxford University and the University of Cape Town.

Investigators assessed 1,300 adults with high blood pressure from the Cape Town area. The goal was to find out if health differences could be determined among a group of patients that received text message reminders and interactive text messaging, and a control group that received standard care. The researchers published their findings in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation.

Why This Particular Study?

According to the World Heart Federation, high blood pressure affects nearly 970 million people worldwide and is usually caused by environmental or circumstantial factors like poor diet, excessive weight, smoking, and lack of exercise.

In the area of Cape Town where the trial took place, about a third of the families were living in extremely poor conditions with a monthly income of less than $215. Low-income families are at a much greater risk of developing high blood pressure, sometimes called hypertension.

There are few warning signs or visual symptoms of high blood pressure. Thus treatment can only be effective if the patient has the means to diagnose the problem and regularly take medication.

Study Specifics

One of the biggest problems faced by individuals with high blood pressure is remembering to take the medication at regular intervals. Additionally, patients must remember to fill prescriptions and have access to medical assistance. Most of the study’s participants in Cape Town did not have these resources available.

Researchers provided one-third of the test group with a text service reminding them to take their medication as well as pick up prescriptions.

A second group received the same text messages but also had interactivity with health providers via text, and the ability to schedule appointments.

The third group, the control group, received medication and standard medical assistance without the use of text.

The Study’s Results

In 12 months, the study concluded that all three of the groups reduced their blood pressure. However, patients that had access to the text reminders were 80 percent more likely to take their medication; both groups receiving the text service also saw a slightly higher rate of blood pressure reduction.

The researches are now looking to the future and preparing to learn more about the best combination of messaging, reminders, and other relevant content, as well as determining the best frequency and time to send the messages to achieve an optimum outcome.

The patients in Cape Town are a part of a huge medical transformation that relies on on mobile technology to improve basic healthcare. While Cape Town isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of mobile tech and medical discoveries, it definitely played an important roll in this recent study.