5 barriers to hypertension control: What they are and how to address them
Given that one in three U.S. adults has hypertension, nearly all physicians face the challenge of helping their patients control their blood pressure. But addressing hypertension effectively in practice can be difficult. Learn the barriers to hypertension control and what you can do to address them in your practice.
Five common barriers to hypertension control are:
- Poor or inconsistent blood pressure measurement techniques
- “White coat effect,” which causes a temporary elevation in a patient’s blood pressure during an office visit in a person with normal blood pressure outside of the office
- Clinical inertia, which occurs when the care team does not initiate or intensify treatment during an office visit if the patient’s blood pressure isn’t at a goal level, or fails to schedule frequent follow up when indicated
- Lack of use of evidence-based treatment protocols by the care team
- Poor patient participation in self-management behaviors
Fortunately, physicians can use a free online module to address all five barriers and get their patients’ blood pressure under control. The module, part of the AMA’s STEPS Forward website, includes practical strategies and tools that you can immediately implement.
The module is built off of a checklist called the “M.A.P. for achieving optimal blood pressure control,” 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 blood pressure accurately act rapidly to reduce clinical inertia and partner with patients, families and communities 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. Under this initiative, 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, test and spread an evidence-based program to improve blood pressure control nationally.
The following resources also provide simple practical tips you can use to help your patients get their hypertension under control:
- Get the one graphic you need for accurate blood pressure readings.
- Read how a physician used the M.A.P. to help a patient change his life.
- Learn the three questions you should ask patients when measuring their blood pressure.
- Hear what other physicians are doing to control hypertension in their practices.
- See how you can help patients manage blood pressure outside of office visits.
Here’s how to learn more: