WEDNESDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetics may soon find
that assistance in controlling their blood pressure is just a cell
phone screen away.
Researchers are now exploring the potential of a new mobile
phone monitoring system that automatically picks up patients' home
blood pressure readings, which is then sent out wirelessly via
radio signals from monitoring equipment outfitted with Blue-tooth
The cell phones are pre-programmed to transmit the blood
pressure readings and receive appropriate feedback (which appear
instantly on the cell phone screen).
Good readings may prompt a message of "Congratulations," while
problematic results may trigger a message advising the patients to
make a check-up appointment with their doctor. The interactive
system may also instruct patients to take more readings over a
specified period of time to get a more reliable overall
What's more, if any two-week or three-day period exceeds a
pre-set average reading threshold, the patient's doctor would be
automatically notified. In addition, doctors would be able to log
online to check their patient's readings.
Dr. Alexander G. Logan, from the University of Toronto, is
slated to discuss the experimental monitoring system Wednesday at
the American Heart Association annual meeting in Chicago.
One expert said the technology can provide a valuable
"Telemonitoring provides information regarding a patient's progress and condition between physician visits, and assists clinicians in identifying patients who have early symptoms of a more serious condition that, if left untreated, may require acute care, like hospitalization," explained Dr. Peter Rutherford, medical director at Wenatchee Valley Medical Center in Wenatchee, Wash.
"In the end," he said, "the patient's engagement in the program, coupled with the case manager's involvement in the patient's care and the physician's practice, is a vital piece of the disease management puzzle."
In the preliminary study, Logan and his colleagues have found
that after using the cell phone-based device for a year, patients
with uncontrolled systolic hypertension dramatically improved their
ability to control their blood pressure. In that time frame,
systolic blood pressure readings among patients using the system
dropped by 9.1 mm Hg, compared with just a 1.6 mm Hg decrease
observed among their counterparts with uncontrolled systolic
hypertension who relied on standard blood pressure monitoring
More than a third of the patients (37 percent) using the cell
phone system were able to get their blood pressure under control,
compared with just 14.2 percent of those using standard
"This study shows how simple interactive technology may help revolutionize preventive care, which relies on the synergy of the physician and the patient," added another expert, Dr. Tara Narula, a clinical cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
She believes the research, "highlights the future of medicine by
a dual approach whereby physicians can reach beyond the confines of
the clinic setting and patients are empowered to take control of
their own health."
Testing of the cell phone-based method will continue as Logan
and his team try to determine what aspects of the new system
account for the improved results.
Rutherford cautioned that, "regardless of the type of
telemonitoring system that is used, there will be an impact on the
patient's care based on what clinicians do with the information
that is collected. In order to have a successful telemonitoring
program, there needs to be an integrated system where clinicians
provide the right level of intervention, based on the information
provided, whether it is adjustments to medication or having the
patient see their physician."
Since the research is to be presented at a medical meeting, the
data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more on blood pressure monitoring and diabetes, visit the
American Heart Association.