For high-risk populations, communication on BP is key

Sara Berg
Senior Staff Writer
AMA Wire
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Helping patients’ meet tighter blood pressure-control goals is difficult enough, but certain populations are at greater risk for hypertension and require an even more rigorous partnership approach to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

These stories on the success of a Florida physician in practice, tips for controlling hypertension in black patients and young adults going untreated were popular among AMA Wire® readers in 2017. Here is a look at some of the most widely read hypertension stories of the past year.

4 ways to partner with black patients to control hypertension. Physician practices seeking to improve the blood-pressure control rates among their black patients should pay special attention to an evidence-based framework for hypertension management that emphasizes the essential role of patient-physician communication, says a cardiologist who has long studied racial and ethnic health disparities in heart disease. His advice included the following:

  • Do not take patients’ health literacy for granted.
  • If patients seem unable to follow the treatment plan, involve other family members in their care.
  • Talk to patients about the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan —and follow up with literature about it.
  • Explain to patients the long-term risks of hypertension.

The incidence of hypertension is dramatically higher among black patients than it is in the U.S. general population—about 44 percent versus 33 percent—and early onset is more frequent.

Editor's note: This story is part of a new topic hub that centralizes the AMA’s essential tools, resources and content to help you in Targeting Hypertension. Explore other Medical Topics That Matter.

Half of young adults with high BP go untreated. Awareness, treatment and control of hypertension among middle-age and older adults has improved in the past decade. But progress is halting for the subpopulation of young adults, according to newly published research showing that half of these patients diagnosed with high BP did not get treatment for their hypertension.

Only 74.7 percent of younger adults were generally aware of the condition of hypertension, compared with 81.9 percent of middle-aged and 88.4 percent of older adults. And when it came to treatment, only 50 percent of young adults underwent treatment while 70.3 percent of middle-age and 83 percent of older adults were treated for hypertension. The same can be seen for control with young adults at 40.2 percent compared to 56.7 percent of middle-age and 54.4 percent of older adults.

“Young adulthood represents an important age interval for early hypertension prevention and treatment, which has the potential to reduce short-term and later life cardiovascular disease risk,” the study said.

Florida physician makes blood-pressure control a priority. About 85 million Americans have hypertension with one out of six unaware they have high blood pressure (BP), according to the American Heart Association, making it a major problem in the U.S. To raise awareness and improve patient health care, Saint Anthony Amofah, MD, prioritizes BP control and management at his Florida office.

In Dr. Amofah’s medical practice, blood pressure control remains a top priority at both the staff and patient levels.

“Everyone in the organization knows that blood pressure is important in different ways,” he said. “So we’ve done educational sessions where we talk about the impact of blood pressure in terms of long-term outcomes for patients with hypertension.”

On the leadership level, Dr. Amofah spends significant time and energy to ensure his team understands the impact of hypertension on patient outcomes. He also emphasizes the importance of having leading goals to keep everyone focused and working in concert, as well as to ensure that his organization meets targets set by health plans and funding agencies.

It is also important for leadership to understand the role they play in creating a system that helps promote good BP management and organization. Dr. Amofah works with his team members to ensure they have adequate training and appropriate resources to promote BP control.

“On the patient level, we have visuals that help them understand the importance of BP management and the role they play,” he said.

The Million Hearts Hypertension Control Challenge is a federal competition to identify clinicians, practices and health systems that have achieved a hypertension control rate of 70 percent or greater among their patients with hypertension and award them with recognition for their work. Learn about the 2017 Hypertension Control Champions.

Target: BP™ is a national initiative co-led by the American Heart Association and the AMA. In addition to direct access to trained field support specialists, a data platform and a suite of evidenced-based tools and resources offered by the AMA and the AHA, Target: BP offers annual, recurring recognition for all participating sites that achieve hypertension control rates of 70 percent or higher among their adult patient population year over year. Learn about the 300-plus organizations recognized by Target: BP.

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Nov 07, 2018
How you can help patients see the need for immediate action and connect them with the right resources for diabetes prevention.