Texting improves blood pressure control

Reminder text messages improve blood pressure control and adherence with antihypertensives, according to new research published in Circulation.

Researchers sent 457 people being treated for high blood pressure weekly information-only text-messages to motivate them to collect and take medicines.

A further 458 patients in an interactive group received the same messages, but could respond to some of them to generate automated responses including cancelling or changing an appointment, and changing the timing and language of the messages. Another 457 received usual care.

The participants all lived in an area of Cape Town where about one-third live in shacks and almost two-thirds have a monthly income of less than 3500 Rand (£150).

After 12 months, 62.8 per cent of the information-only group and 59.7 per cent
of the interactive group showed good adherence (took at least 80 per cent of their antihypertensives). Adherence was significantly lower in the usual care group
(49.4 per cent).

Mean adjusted systolic blood pressure compared to usual care was 2.2mmHg lower with information-only texts and 1.6mmHg lower with interactive texts. The likelihood of blood pressure <140/90mmHg was 42 per cent higher for informationonly messaging and 41 per cent higher for interactive messaging compared to usual care.

“The improvements seen were equivalent to those expected from intensive one-to-one behavioural counselling, which is usually more expensive,” comments study author, Professor Andrew Farmer, from the department of primary health care sciences at Oxford University.

“When we consider that those good at sticking to treatment are 20 per cent less likely to die prematurely than those who don't manage that, any relatively low-cost intervention that helps people manage their high blood pressure successfully can save the very real personal, social and economic costs of the disease.”

(DOI:10.1161/ Circulationaha.115.017530)

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