Thursday, December 21, 2017

Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure to Improve Hypertension

Self-Monitoring Blood Pressure to Improve Hypertension

Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Even a small elevation in blood pressure can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality. The risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles for every 20 mmHg increase in systolic blood pressure or 10 mmHg increase in diastolic blood pressure. Self-monitoring of blood pressure (SMBP), when combined with additional clinical support, is one strategy that can reduce the risk of disability or death due to high blood pressure, and has been shown to lead to better overall control. 

SMBP is the regular measurement of blood pressure by a patient at home or somewhere outside of the healthcare setting, using a personal measurement device. A recent article on the effectiveness of SMBP, stated that self-monitoring was associated with reduced clinic systolic blood pressure (sBP) compared to usual care at 12 months, and was most effective in those with fewer anti-hypertensive medications and higher baseline sBP up to 170 mmHg. 

When engaging your patients in self-monitoring activities, it is important to make sure that your patients feel comfortable with the process and that they know what steps to take, including seeking emergency treatment, if they have a blood pressure reading that is outside the pre-determined acceptable range, or if they experience symptoms with a high or low blood pressure reading. This guidance to your patient should be individualized by the clinician and reinforced by clinical staff at the initiation of any SMBP. Your patients should also be communicating the home measurements with their provider’s office to be most effective. This can be done using the telephone, patient portal, or an in person follow-up visit. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Million Hearts have provided a guide detailing Action Steps for Clinicians to facilitate the implementation of SMBP including how to prepare care teams to implement SMBP with patients, how to empower patients, and additional clinical and educational support. 

Million Hearts/ CDC Action Steps for Clinicians

Uhlig K, Balk EM, Patel K, et al. Self-measured blood pressure monitoring: comparative effectiveness. Comparative effectiveness review no. 45 (prepared by the Tufts Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. HHSA 290-2007- 10055-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 12-EHC002-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. January 2012.  

Blood Pressure. Murakami L and Rakotz M. Self-measured Blood Pressure Monitoring Program: Engaging Patients in Self-measurement. 1st ed. Daniel D and Prall M, eds. American Medical Association and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; February 2015.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Preferred Benefits Services Employee Benefits

Enhance your employee benefits package through the OACHC! 

  • 25% rate reduction to your current Basic Life program
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP) with four face-to-face visits included at no charge
  • Higher guarantee issue limits and plan maximums on Voluntary Life
  • Reduced employee costs for Voluntary Life
  • Spouse and child(ren) benefits available 
  • No requirement to offer a new open enrollment period 
  • April 1, 2018 effective date

For more information, contact: 
Brian Lenzo 
Group Benefits Specialist

Preferred Benefits Services, Inc.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Have you gotten your flu shot?

National Influenza Vaccination Week

This week highlights the importance of getting your influenza vaccination. Flu season peaks between December and February but can last well into May! Each year, hundreds of thousands of people get the flu and many are even hospitalized. 
"While the impact of flu varies, it places a substantial burden on the health of people in the United States each year. CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9.2 million and 60.8 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010." - Centers for Disease Control 

The flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection. Those who are most at risk of contracting the flu are:
  • individuals 65 or older           
  • pregnant women
  • kids
  • people with asthma, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or cancer

For this flu season, it is recommended that you only get the flu shot to be sure that you are safe from the flu. However, other preventative measures you can take to stay healthy this winter include:
  • avoiding close contact with sick people
  • if you have flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours
  • cover your nose and mouth when sneezing
  • ALWAYS wash your hands! If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand-sanitizer.
For more information, click here!

To learn how you can spread more information about National Influenza Vaccination Week and information about the flu in general, go to the CDC's Influenza page here!

To find out where you can get a flu vaccine, go to