Connecting with Others can Help Lower High Blood Pressure

I absolutely love this study.
It proves that hearing others’ stories and learning that we are not alone can measurably improve health.

Sandral Hullett, et. al., published this study in the Annals of Internal Medicine in which 230 African American males and females were randomized to receive either the intervention or the control at clinic in the South.

The control consisted of videos at baseline, 3 months and 6 – 9 months of general, health-related informational videos, read bland.

The intervention consisted of videos at baseline, 3 month and 6 – 9 months of patients talking about their experience of hypertension.

The intervention reduced the study subject’s blood pressure by an average of 7 mm Hg for the Systolic reading and about 3 mm Hg for the Diastolic reading which is comparable to actual medicine for hypertension.

Here is a quote from the paper which compares their results to standard methods of reducing blood pressure:

“We compared our findings with those from previous pharmaceutical, nonpharmaceutical, and behavioral hypertension
treatment trials. According to data from the ALLHAT (Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial), chlorthalidone, amlodipine, and lisinopril decreased systolic blood pressure by between 10.5 and 12.3 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by between 8.6 and 9.3 mm Hg over 5 years (18). Appel and colleagues (19) reported that an 8-week intervention to improve dietary behaviors of patients with hypertension led to decreases of 5.5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure. In a systematic review of 11 studies of behavioral interventions (20), the Cochrane collaboration found that the mean reduction in systolic blood pressure for the intervention groups was  0.57 mm Hg (CI,  1.22 to 0.08 mm Hg) compared with the control groups. Thus, our intervention produced greater changes than many behavioral interventions and performed similarly to nonpharmaceutical and pharmaceutical interventions.”

If you or someone you know has blood pressure, connect them with others, it may help a great deal.

For related clinical trials for hypertension, search here on TrialX.

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3 thoughts on “Connecting with Others can Help Lower High Blood Pressure

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  2. This is an excellent study. But, think for a moment of what it implies.

    Without taking anything away from this excellent study, all it did (which was a lot!) was get patients to listen to stories. Imagine if there had been more — listening, feedback, questions … in short, a story followed by a dialogue. The affect of each story would have been that much more powerful!

    Take this story telling and dialogue concept to the problem of adherence (i.e. getting patients to take their medications as directed by their physician) — Have patients who are not adherent to their medication listen to the stories of and dialogue with patients who are adherent to their medication.

    For more thoughts, please see

    • Thanks for the reply Michael! I also checked out your blog and I Love it. After working in health care for 10 years, we need out of box thinking…we need massive change. That is part of what Cure Talk is dedicated to — providing a platform for communication about cutting edge medicine for both patients and health-care professionals so that together, we can help each other make the changes we want to see in health care.

      And now to respond to your comment. I agree. However, I imagine controlling a study design where a two sided conversation is the main intervention is quite difficult as the number of variables increases dramatically when you have two live people interacting and having a conversation. Conversations are natural when they are spontaneous and sometimes, as we all know, because they involve two people, can turn sour. Perhaps the researchers could have had three touchstone type points on which to focus on during the conversation, and both people would need to agree to keep the conversation away from arguing. Something like that…

      But all in all, I agree that live interaction and sharing would probably result in a greater reduction in blood pressure.

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