Ganging up on high blood pressure

High blood pressure affects a third of U.S. adults. It’s undertreated and hard to manage. But a new team approach underway at University Health System clinics is showing promising results.

When high blood pressure isn’t controlled, it can contribute to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and diabetes complications. Typically, in most settings, treatment involves a brief chat with a physician, followed by a prescription for a hypertension medicine. Controlling blood pressure, however, is more successful when a number of factors are addressed.

The team approach being studied at University Health System involves getting the physician a little help. That includes a dietitians, nursing specialists, a pharmacist to help manage medications, and a patient navigator to follow up with patients on how they are complying and to talk about what might make it tough for them.

Preliminary results show that a much larger percentage of patients have their blood pressure under control when the team-approach is used. That means fewer emergency department visits, fewer hospitalizations, and time and money saved for patients and providers.

For Ann Mazuca, who has a better handle on her hypertension and feels stronger since participating in the project through the University Family Health Center  – Southeast, it means something more than that.

“The fact that they care makes me care,” Ms. Mazuca told Texas Public Radio bioscience reporter Wendy Rigby. “People want me to live. And that gives me a lot of hope.”

Click here to read or hear the complete story on Texas Public Radio.