Study Pairs Mobile Technology With Expert Review

Technology and expertise are coming together at the Smidt Heart Institute's Hypertension Center in the search for new care protocols for patients with resistant hypertension.

During a three-month pilot study currently underway, patients will take their blood pressure and, with a tap of a button on their smartphone, email the results to their doctor. The physician will use that information to monitor how well the patients' prescription plan is working, and make adjustments based on the continual readings.

This new approach — observing patients through technology and adjusting medications on the go — may be key to preventing chronic hypertension's most dangerous outcomes, such as heart attack and stroke, said the study's principal investigator, cardiologist Florian Rader, MD, MSc.

“Mobile technology, home monitoring and sending doctors this information is the future of where medicine is going,” he said.

According to Rader, using available technology to aid in the control of hypertension is a completely novel approach – a shift from paternalistic, in-office treatment to more patient-centered, self-directed care.

Patients in the study will use a free iPhone app, Withings Health Mate, along with the Withings iPhone Blood Pressure Cuff to take their readings wherever they are most comfortable. The app will remind them to do so twice daily, and send the results to Rader and his team for review.

“It has been shown that out-of-office blood pressure is actually more important in predicting BAT (baroreflex activation therapy) cardiac outcomes compared to blood pressure taken in the office,” he noted. “That is the blood pressure you have all day long versus in the office where you may be nervous; you may have this white-coat effect and that does not predict BAT outcomes as good as home blood pressure.”

Ronald G. Victor, MD, director of the Hypertension Center and associate director of clinical research for the Heart Institute, said the beauty of this approach is that it's easy and convenient.

“This use of mobile technology is the way of the future,” Victor said. “It's coming of age big time and I think a lot of the new movement is to use telemedicine, especially since smart phones are so easy.”

The best part, Victor said, is that the patient isn't required to write anything down.

“It's all in the app,” he said. “The patient can just hit one button and the doctor gets the results in a spread sheet via text message or email.”

The cuff can be used with iPhone 3GS, 4 or 4S. An adapter is required for iPhone 5.

“It's very easy to use. You can bring the cuff to work or wherever you're going. It's very portable and it's a cool looking device,” Rader said. “It's kind of fun.”

If the method proves to be safe and effective, Rader said the hope is it will lead to a change in the way physicians approach hypertension treatment overall.

"A lot of people have (an iPhone) and people are involved with their phones anyways,” he said. “They look at it all day and so if you can use it for something good, for your body, then (it will) hopefully remind people to check their blood pressure.”

The study is currently enrolling participants. Please contact us for more information.