Timely text message reminders can help in reducing Hypertension

Hypertension is a common condition which can be dealt easily with tablets. However, in any health system, even if medicines are freely available, people tend to forget taking medication regularly. It could have disastrous consequences. A path-breaking study conducted by researchers at Britain’s Oxford University and the University of Cape Town in South Africa found that text message reminders can help reduce people’s blood pressure.

Health workers in the study used mobile phones linked to Hypertension monitoring devices to collect information about patients, and text messaging was managed using a cheap calculating system.

There is immense potential for mobile phone technology in managing chronic ailments like diabetes and hypertension.

A worldwide system of messaging the right person at the right time could make a big difference in the life expectancy of such persons suffering from chronic ailments like Diabetes or Hypertension.

Professor Lionel Tarassenko from the research team said that the study helped to demonstrate how this process can be done in an area which has a high number of hypertensive patients.

Andrew Farmer, from Oxford’s department of primary health care sciences, said that common issues in compliance include not turning up to collect medicine, running out of medicines or forgetting to take pills. It is a known fact that text messages have helped support AIDS patient by alerting them to take medicines regularly and improve their health. Andrew wanted to repeat the success with Hypertension patients also.

The subjects of the study were segregated into three groups. All the subjects were given written information about hypertension and healthy living. The first group received weekly messages at a time and in the language they chose.

The second group received identical messages but had the option to call and change appointments, language or time of messages. Whereas, the third group received standard care.

After one year all the three groups had reduced blood pressure. Those who received text messages had a greater reduction in blood pressure. Those who had the reminders were 80% more likely to have taken the medicines as compared to those who received standard care.

The study has been published in the American Heart Association Journal Circulation.

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