Diabetics to Check Blood Pressure at Home

High blood sugar increases salt retention.

A team of researchers in Massachusetts are developing technology that will allow diabetics to test their blood pressure at home and send those readings automatically to nurses so their medication can be adjusted as frequently as needed.

Diabetes is a condition where the body becomes resistant to insulin. Insulin is the hormone that regulates sugar in the blood. The extra sugar in the blood causes additional salt retention in the body, which leads to hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. In addition, the behaviors such as poor diet and lack of exercise which contribute to diabetes, also contribute to hypertension as well. In addition to behavioral and environmental factors, both diabetes and hypertension are related to genetics. Although two-thirds of people with diabetes have hypertension, a person can have diabetes without being hypertensive, and conversely, a person can have hypertension without being diabetic. Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney disease.

This new device is a blood pressure cuff that can connect to a computer. Test patients in the study will be able use the cuff at home, upload the information to Microsoft HealthVault on their home computers. Health professionals at Fallon Clinics in Central Massachusetts will be able to access the information, and adjust the patients’ medication accordingly to manage blood pressure levels. “We’re trying to understand how this specific technology contributes to Fallon’s intervention goals for diabetics with high blood pressure,” says Jenna L. Marquard of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a researcher in the study. The goal of the study is to find an inexpensive way to utilize this technology, which can benefit health care facilities as well as patients in lower income neighborhoods.
Some of the challenges that researchers face are making the process easy to understand and user-friendly, and incorporating the program in a way that is cost effective for patients and health care facilities. Researchers are also planning to create instructions that are easy for patients to understand.

Once the technology is in place, it will help patient manage their blood pressure. It will also be able to help people without diabetes who just have hypertension. High blood pressure is often called a silent killer because it can go undetected until it is too late. If patients don’t normally visit the physician, they may not regularly have their blood pressure checked. The new technology will make it even easier for people to have their blood pressure checked.

Photo by Deutsche Fotothek