Better Interventions Needed to Improve Hypertension Control in Young Adults
Madison, Wisconsin - Only 55 percent of young adults with incident hypertension are being educated within one year of their diagnosis about lifestyle changes that could help manage or improve their condition, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH).
The study, which is the first to evaluate the documentation of lifestyle education in electronic medical records of young adults with incident hypertension, was published online Nov. 6 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
“Lifestyle changes are an important component of hypertension control, but our study suggests that not nearly enough young adults are being educated about the kinds of things they can do to improve their health,” said Dr. Heather Johnson, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at UW School of Medicine and Public Health and principal investigator of the study.
“Patients with hypertension should not only have an ongoing dialogue with their medical team about managing their elevated blood pressure but they should clearly understand how behavior changes - including exercise, quitting smoking, and lower sodium choices - could help lower their blood pressure.”
Some of the study’s most important findings include:
- Young adult males had significantly decreased odds of receiving documented education about lifestyle changes.
- Patients with a previous diagnosis of hyperlipidemia or a family history of hypertension or coronary artery disease had increased odds of documented education.
- Physicians were more likely to provide lifestyle education during chronic disease visits than for acute or preventive visits.
Researchers conducted the study by randomly selecting electronic health record data of 500 adults, ages 18-39, who met clinical criteria for incident hypertension. Incident hypertension, is defined as a new diagnosis of high blood pressure for patients who met clinical criteria and had not previously received a hypertension diagnosis or blood pressure medication.
Johnson says the study also suggests that daily competing demands on healthcare providers and the limited time for information exchange between patients and their healthcare team are critical challenges to delivering proper patient education.
“Many healthcare providers may discuss behavior change, but they have limited time for documentation and ongoing monitoring of behavior change,” says Johnson. “Healthcare system interventions that empower additional clinical staff for health coaching and lifestyle education could go a long way toward addressing some of these barriers.”
Dr. Heather Johnson was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award #K23HL112907, and also by the University of Wisconsin Centennial Scholars Program of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
The study was also funded by the Health Innovation Program and the Clinical and Translational Science Award program, previously through the National Center for Research Resources under award #UL1RR025011, and by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award #U54TR000021.
Additional funding for the project was provided by the University of Wisconsin Health Innovation Program and The Wisconsin Partnership Program.
Date Published: 11/06/2014