Apps do not improve blood pressure control at home

Apps do not improve blood pressure control at home

Managing blood pressure at home is already difficult, and syncing blood pressure equipment with an app doesn’t improve the process, a new study found. In this case, as in many others, technology is not a good substitute for medical support.

Millions of adults in the United States have uncontrolled blood pressure, and high blood pressure can put people at risk for heart disease and stroke. Helping people manage their blood pressure is an important goal for health systems, but just sending someone with high blood pressure home with a fistful isn’t particularly helpful, research shows. What does help is to combine people’s home blood pressure monitoring with educational support programs, regular drug counseling by pharmacists or systems that send regular updates to doctors.

These types of add-ons, however, are expensive and time-consuming. Apps, on the other hand, are cheap and fast, and some blood pressure cuffs now come with paired apps that can interpret results and make recommendations.

The new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, divided more than 2,000 patients with high blood pressure into two groups. People in one group were sent an OMRON blood pressure monitor and people in the other group were sent the same monitor along with instructions for setting up the OMRON Connect smartphone app .

After six months, both groups had small reductions in blood pressure, but there was no difference between the two groups. The authors hoped the app might be a more efficient way to improve blood pressure management at home, they wrote in the study, but the results showed it didn’t help.

The study only focused on one specific blood pressure monitor and app, and some research has shown that other apps have helped improve blood pressure in certain groups. But other recent studies have also found that the apps didn’t have much benefit or helped only a small amount, the authors wrote. Study finds blood pressure apps may not be worth patients’ time or money.

This will not prevent groups from trying to create devices and apps like this. Blood pressure is an important target for tech companies, and many (like Apple) are working to build blood pressure monitors for smart watches and other devices. Presumably, as with the heart rate monitoring features of smartwatches, they will be marketed as ways for people to help monitor their health on their own. But just because they can measure something like blood pressure doesn’t automatically mean they can help improve it.

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