A Geisinger nephrologist recently published the results of a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The report showed that remote telehealth support helped reduce blood pressure. According to Alexander Chang, M.D., the primary author, “These remotely delivered programs improved blood pressure in a manner similar to blood pressure medication.”

The research team randomly assigned 187 people with high blood pressure to one of two groups. The testers gave both groups access to web-based apps and lifestyle guidance based on American Heart Association recommendations. The placebo group had very little support added from nonclinical staff. The test group, however, participated in weekly calls with a dietitian who supported them with motivational interviews. The program lasted for 12 weeks.

The published study reported that both the placebo and test groups had reduced 24-hour systolic blood pressure with statistically insignificant differences between the groups. There were four areas in which the dietician-supported group had significantly improved results: sleep systolic blood pressure, sleep diastolic blood pressure, self-reported physical activity, and weight loss. So, both groups enjoyed the primary benefit of overall lower blood pressure with the web applications and AHA guidelines, but the weekly dietician-led motivational interviews resulted in significantly greater improvements in several secondary measures.

Any treatment that reduces the need for medication for hypertension or any other disease or medical condition is a win. This study points to two alternatives with positive results. Engaged support in the form of regular motivational interviews by a clinical specialist yielded additional benefits. That sounds like a win-win.