Monitoring your blood pressure on a regular basis can save you from heart diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the top leading cause of death in the US. In the year 2020, heart disease deaths increased by 4.8%, the largest increase in heart disease deaths since 2012.
Hypertension continues to be a persistent link to heart diseases and potentially fatal outcomes. Risk factors can be modifiable such as excessive drinking and unhealthy lifestyle, or non-modifiable, such as a family history of hypertension. But one thing is true: hypertension, most of the time, is a preventable disease.
Hypertension is a silent killer, which means at first, you will most likely feel no symptoms. Over time it becomes a long-standing chronic disease until you experience symptoms such as headache or chest pain. These symptoms may warn of possible organ damages in the heart, brain, kidneys, even your eyes. Early detection of hypertension is important because prevention is always better and cost-effective than cure.
Telemedicine and the Growth of RPM
Telemedicine has been around since the rise of technology. In the 1980s, pioneers from Florida have used telemedicine in prisons. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) has been created to gather patients’ health data without being heavily burdened by hospitals and emergency rooms.
Remote monitoring significantly improved the lives of our chronic patients. Today, as it brought continuity of care among patients with COVID-19, remote patient monitoring has opened doors to increasing digital health interventions, working with insurers and billing companies to bring more convenience to patients.
Self-monitoring would suffice for some patients, but having repeatedly high readings will be ineffective unless you call your provider. American Heart Association studied the effectiveness of remote cardiac monitoring in preventing complications brought about by hypertension. RPM has shown great potential in lowering blood pressure readings, which is why RPM platforms like DrKumo developed highly specialized features in their platforms to create better health care models and maximize the digital healthcare experience.
The beauty of wearable devices, such as DrKumo’s smartwatch, is that patients can measure blood pressure anytime through continuous data transmission.
Understanding Blood Pressure Variations
Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure of ≥ 130 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure of ≥ 80 mm Hg.
Blood pressure varies during the day. The term “blood pressure variation” refers to fluctuations in high blood pressure normally occurring in your body. When you exercise or are stressed, it’s normal to have elevated blood pressure readings. Other factors include hormone problems that increase blood pressure, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
Whitecoat hypertension is a common phenomenon where blood pressure increases during trips to the clinic. The beauty of remote monitoring is that we do away with being stressed in front of our doctor. Nowadays, our living rooms have become the “new normal” waiting rooms for your doctor’s appointment.
When BPV is abnormal
Normally blood pressure lowers up to 20% its typical values at night, during sleep. It increases as you wake up and steadily increases during the day. So, when your blood pressure fluctuates for multiple readings despite being at rest, it may predispose you to other possibly alarming health conditions such as uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, or thyroid diseases.
Recently, American Heart Association stated management of patients with Stage I Hypertension. If advised by doctors, antihypertensive treatment can be started early together with lifestyle modification to lower blood pressure and prevent from progressing into Stage 2 Hypertension.
Limitations of RPM
One of the biggest problems with the apprehensive use of RPM is the potential cost from billing claims. A patient can monitor himself without using RPM and call his provider whenever problems arise to save costs. However, regular monitoring is a big digital healthcare intervention that saves time scheduling appointments and saves costs in hospital admissions brought about by complications of hypertension.
Monitoring can be done by self-monitoring, but more maximized efforts are achieved with the help of streamlined data available. For RPM to be successful, patients must continuously transmit data to give a better patient overview with the help of algorithms. A patient must be proactive to promote the patient’s self-management as a complement to the doctor’s intervention and encourage greater participation in medical decision-making.