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Hypertension is Just one Condition Treated through Telehealth

Effective delivery of primary health care requires considerably more communication and more frequent exchanges of information than the length of a typical office visit to a health care professional will permit. While healthcare industry leaders recommend the use of health information technology to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs, there has been less attention paid to the utilization of this particular technology to deliver care.


The use of web based technologies including videoconferencing, secure messaging and remote physical monitoring can improve the doctor-patient relationship and the quality of health care the patient receives through a Virtual Doctor, according to recent studies. This includes the online diagnosis of many chronic and acute medical conditions, one of which is hypertension.


Evidence proves that both parties are certainly willing to use technologies for the delivery of appropriate healthcare. However, ongoing success will need the integration of electronic health records to support the implementation and growth of online medical care (Dixon, 2010).


Hypertension Defined


Hypertension and elevated blood pressure are different terminologies for the same condition. When someone has their blood pressure (BP) taken, they are having the force exerted against the artery walls, while the heart pumps blood through the body, and that force is then measured.


Blood pressure readings are normally expressed as two numbers, such as 120/80. In the case of hypertension, one or both of these figures will be too high. The upper number is the systolic while the bottom figure is the diastolic blood pressure.


Risk Factors and Causes for Hypertension


Hypertension puts a person at a much greater risk of suffering from dangerous complications/diseases like heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, vision problems, chronic kidney disease and/or premature death. There are two classifications of hypertension: essential and secondary.


Essential Hypertension – In 95 percent of U.S. cases of diagnosed high blood pressure, the underlying cause cannot be ascertained. This type is called essential hypertension. However, essential hypertension has been linked to certain risk factors:


• Heredity: High blood pressure often runs in families.


• Gender: Hypertension is more likely to afflict men than women.


• Age/Race: In the United States, blacks are two times more likely to suffer from elevated blood pressure as whites. However, the gap does begin to narrow at approximately 45 years of age. After the age of 65, black females are at the highest risk for hypertension.


• Diet/Lifestyle: There is an intrinsic link between sodium intake and elevated BP. As an example, individuals who live in northern Japan consume more salt per capita than anywhere else worldwide. They also have the highest reported incidence of essential hypertension. By comparison, those who eat sodium-free diets rarely show signs of essential hypertension.


• Other factors: Such as diabetes, obesity, stress, inadequate potassium, calcium and/or magnesium intakes, lack of exercise, as well as chronic consumption of alcohol.


Secondary Hypertension – When a specific cause for hypertension can be determined, the condition is referred to as secondary hypertension. Known causes of this form of high BP include:


• Chronic kidney disease: Ranks as the number one cause.


• Tumors or other abnormalities of adrenal glands: Small glands located on top of the kidneys secrete excessive quantities of certain hormones which elevate blood pressure.


• Birth control pills: Especially those that contain estrogen.


• Pregnancy: Can elevate blood pressure, known as pre-eclampsia.


• Drugs: Constrict blood vessels and pressure within the vessels.

 

Treatment for Hypertension


It is essential that a patient’s blood pressure be kept under control so that they have significantly less chances of developing any of the dangerous complications listed above. Blood pressure can be effectively controlled by practicing certain lifestyle habits:


• Consume a “heart healthy” diet, i.e. low in saturated fats, high in potassium and fiber. This means eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.


• Reduce dietary amounts of sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams daily if you have hypertension. A healthy adult with normal blood pressure needs to keep their intake of salt to 2,300 milligrams a day (the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon).


• Regular exercise, including aerobics. Take a brisk walk to get your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes a day, several times per week.


• Quit smoking.
• Limit amounts of alcohol consumed. This means two drinks daily for males and one a day for females.
• Reduce levels of stress with exercises like yoga or meditation.
• If you are overweight or obese, lose weight.
• Take prescribed anti-hypertension medications.
• Frequently monitor your blood pressure. Ask a doctor the best “at home” blood pressure monitor to use. See your doctor so they can keep track of your BP too!

More patient’s are resorting to telemedicine through popular websites such as QuickRxRefills.com for refills of maintenance medication especially while they are in between office based doctors or while on vacation if they forget or misplace their medication.

 

Resources


Dixon RF (2010). Enhancing Primary Care through Online Communication. Health Affairs.

UMMC (2011). Hypertension.

WebMD (2013). High blood pressure.

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