March 9, 2021
High Blood Pressure is On The Rise. Here’s How Digital Healthcare is Helping
Bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, and an aging population has put high blood pressure (also known as “hypertension”) at the top of the World Health Organization’s list of global health concerns.
High blood pressure as a condition in itself might not ring alarm bells. After all, it’s never a direct cause of death. However, high blood pressure does cause many diseases and health conditions that do, including stroke, heart attack, and heart disease (the leading cause of death worldwide).
Careful management of the condition is vital. Because high blood pressure is often caused and exacerbated by certain lifestyle factors, it’s necessary for patients and practitioners to work together to manage it.
What is High Blood Pressure, and What Are the Symptoms?
Blood pressure readings record how much blood is passing through arteries and the resistance that blood meets while the heart is beating. The narrower the artery, the higher the resistance. It’s currently estimated that almost half of American adults will be diagnosed with hypertension.
Hypertension occurs when your blood pressure rises to an unhealthy degree. It usually develops over several years without symptoms, and this is what makes it particularly insidious. Over time, it can lead to a range of health issues, including heart disease, as well as damage to the heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys. Other less serious—but still impactful—side-effects of high blood pressure include fatigue, headaches, lower exercise tolerance, and blurred vision.
Early detection and careful management are vital. Even if you have no symptoms, getting your readings checked once a year will help pick up on early warning signs. The practitioner can monitor blood pressure regularly over the course of a few weeks, then work with the patient to create a plan for managing their condition if readings stay elevated.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
There’s no one answer here. High blood pressure is caused by a range of things including lifestyle factors and chronic illness, of which high blood pressure is a secondary symptom.
You might be at risk if you:
- Are overweight
- Have too much salt in your diet
- Consume too much alcohol or coffee
- Don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables
- Don’t get much exercise
- Don’t get enough sleep
- Are over 65
- Are of Black, African, or Caribbean descent
In addition, there is a range of health conditions that can cause high blood pressure, including diabetes, kidney disease, and metabolic syndrome paired with insulin resistance, which can lead to the development of fatty liver disease—one of the leading causes of portal hypertension.
There’s a complex relationship between the metabolic system and chronic liver diseases (Image Source)
It’s important that patients and practitioners are aware of their increased risks and take steps to include regular checkups as part of their health management.
COVID-19 and High Blood Pressure: What Are the Risks?
While stress and anxiety don’t cause high blood pressure, people living with hypertension are at an increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. In fact, according to a report in the Journal of Human Hypertension, high blood pressure is the most prevalent comorbidity among patients admitted with COVID-19, presenting in 30%-49% of patients. Individuals with high blood pressure should take extra steps to protect themselves from contracting the disease, including maintaining social distancing rules where possible.
What is Digital Healthcare, and How Does it Help Those Living with High Blood Pressure?
Digital healthcare is an overarching term for care provided remotely via a device. It includes telehealth, telemedicine, and Chronic Care Management (CCM), which is the process of providing ongoing care for those living with long-term health conditions, including high blood pressure and the diseases that cause it.
With digital CCM, the doctor helps the patient achieve improvements to their quality of life and manage symptoms through lifestyle management. This is provided through education, care coordination, Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM), care outside of hours, and prescription management.
Lifestyle changes are more likely to be consistent and effective when patients have the support and guidance of a professional. With digital healthcare and chronic care management, patients can check in weekly (or more often) with their practitioner, who can give them tips on diet and exercise. The practitioner can also ensure patients are adhering to their medication plan.
If steps are taken to get lifestyle and health factors under control early, then the effects will be far easier to manage further down the road. Early detection and regular checkups are vital.
It’s important patients and practitioners know that maintaining health is an ongoing process. “Individuals with high blood pressure need to be aware of their condition, so they can take steps to control it. For many individuals, management includes both a healthy lifestyle and medications,” Dr. Brent M. Egan, a professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and the American Medical Association’s vice president of cardiovascular disease prevention told Healthline.
“Effective self-management includes taking necessary and sufficient medication together with a healthy lifestyle to control blood pressure. [It is] a consistent, long-term, ongoing process and not an episodic event,” he adds. “For many patients, training in self-monitored blood pressure, including recording values and relaying those to the healthcare team is beneficial in improving blood pressure control.”
How ChronWell Can Help
Our digital solutions include Chronic Care Management and Remote Patient Monitoring services that make it easier for doctors to diagnose and care for patients suffering secondary symptoms as part of their chronic illness. This includes a comprehensive technology-enabled approach to managing chronic liver diseases through LIVErHEALTHY.
Our LIVErHEALTHY program links our Chronic Care Management (CCM) service with ModifyHealth’s intuitive food and diet regime, and Echosens’ frequent non-invasive liver testing. This helps care navigators remotely manage patients’ in‑between visits, which is accomplished through care coordination, real-time monitoring, and routine check-ins. This ensures adherence to tailored care plans and helping patients stay on track.
If you’d like to find out more about setting up a CCM plan, speak to one of our experts today.
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