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Current guidelines suggest that patients with high blood pressure return for doctor visits within a month, but patients often wait longer.
Dr. Alexander Turchin, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues followed more than 5,000 diabetics with high blood pressure, average age 65, from 2000 to 2005.
The researchers found that patients who visited their primary care doctors monthly needed an average of 1.5 months to see their blood pressure return to normal. On the other hand, patients who waited longer between visits took an average of 12.2 months for their readings to return to normal.
Patients who visited their primary care doctors once every two weeks -- or even more frequently -- did the best of all, the team found.
Physicians and patients with elevated blood pressure should try for more frequent communication face-to-face or otherwise, Turchin said in a statement.
Instead of in-person visits, he said, patients could use the Internet or telephone to report their blood pressure level to their doctor.
The study was published May 24 in the journal Hypertension.
-- Randy Dotinga
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SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, May 24, 2010