SAN FRANCISCO — Only about half of hypertensive individuals check their blood pressure at home with any regularity, although that number rose slightly in recent years, national survey data showed.

Weekly or monthly home blood pressure monitoring was reported by 49.1% of hypertensive adults across 2010 and 2012 surveys combined, Carma Ayala, BSN, MPH, PhD, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues found.

That was up from 43.2% in the same survey series from 2005-2008.

Motivation — as indicated by being on treatment, working on healthy habits, and being in regular contact with the healthcare system — appeared to be a factor, Ayala reported here at the American Society of Hypertension meeting.

“The more you are enfranchised in your health, the better,” commented Donald DiPette, MD, of the University of South Carolina in Columbia. “Expanding that group would make a significant difference. We’re only halfway there.”

He pointed to the need to get out the message and amp up patient education to reach the other 50%.

Ayala agreed and suggested that motivational interviewing techniques might be helpful given the findings.

Guidelines recommend routine use of home blood pressure monitors in hypertension, which clinical trials have shown to help improve blood pressure control.

The analysis included combined data from the 2010 and 2012 iterations of the annual HealthStyles survey, conducted by the private firms Porter Novelli and Knowledge Networks, of 10,000 randomly-selected households, weighted to be nationally representative for age, sex, race, income, and household size.

Averaged across the two surveys, 26.5% of adults reported hypertension, defined by high blood pressure on two or more doctor visits or use of antihypertensive medication.

Of the slightly less than half of hypertensive adults who reported regular home blood pressure monitor use, 65% said they never checked the accuracy of their monitor. Most of the rest calibrated their device at the doctor’s office with varying frequency.

Patients who weren’t being treated and were less involved in their health appeared to be less likely to regularly check blood pressure levels at home. The adjusted odds were:

  • 43% lower for those not taking at least one of four recommended lifestyle actions to lower blood pressure
  • 73% lower among those ages 18 to 44 versus 65 and older
  • 27% lower among those without regular visits to their healthcare provider (three or more in the prior year)

Also, those not on antihypertensives had about half the likelihood of regular monitoring as those on medication for their condition.

Other chronic health conditions — diabetes, congestive heart failure, and atrial fibrillation — were significantly associated with higher rates of regular home blood pressure monitoring.

Limitations of the study included lack of data on type of home blood pressure cuff used, as some are more accurate than others, and the use of self-reported data.

Further monitoring of trends in home blood pressure checks will be important, DiPette noted.

“It’s not only because we want to track good health behaviors,” he said. “But what we really want to know are why are the other 50% not [monitoring their blood pressure], and how can we [develop a strategy to] implement interventions that will reach out to those individuals.”

Source: MedPage Today.