3 questions to ask patients when measuring blood pressure
Help your patients think about their hearts this February—use American Heart Month to focus on your patients’ blood pressure.
Make sure your workflow includes these three important questions to better measure and control your patient’s’ blood pressure and help improve their overall health.
- “Were you rushing to get here or physically active right before this appointment?” Multiple factors can influence blood pressure measurement, so patients should have time to rest before you check their blood pressure and should be sitting quietly. Use the chart at right to make sure the patient’s blood pressure isn’t falsely elevated.
- “Have you been taking your medication?” If patients are on medication for high blood pressure, it’s important to know if they’re actually taking it. Costs, complicated regimens and side effects can all be reasons why patients stop using their medication, so make sure you discuss any factors that prevent them from sticking to their plan. Use this tip sheet to improve patients’ medication adherence.
- “What’s your diet and physical activity regimen like?” If a patient doesn’t choose healthy foods or abstains from physical activity, find out why. Direct him or her to community resources that can help with proper diet and exercise. Explain how eating healthy foods and staying active can help lower blood pressure.
You can find additional tips for addressing blood pressure in a checklist called the “M.A.P. for achieving optimal blood pressure control” (log in), developed by the AMA, Johns Hopkins Medicine and physicians in pilot sites across the country to improve outcomes around hypertension. The pilot practice sites also tested and helped evolve the tools. The M.A.P. calls for physicians and care teams to measure accurately, act rapidly and partner with patients to promote patient self-management.
The M.A.P. framework includes a number of resources, which are products of the AMA’s Improving Health Outcomes initiative, in which the AMA and participating physicians and care teams are working with researchers at the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality and the Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities to develop and test evidence-based blood pressure recommendations. Learn more about how physicians have controlled hypertension in their practices over the past year.