Of the 136 million annual visits to emergency departments, “nearly all of those visits have at least one time during the visit where the patient’s blood pressure is measured and recorded,” says IHPI member William Meurer, M.D., an associate professor of emergency medicine at Michigan Medicine.
Which is why that setting could provide a prime chance to identify — and possibly treat — a patient population in need: people from central cities with limited access to other venues for medical care.
“Hypertension is the main risk factor for strokes,” says Lesli Skolarus, M.D., fellow IHPI member and Michigan Medicine associate professor of neurology and Meurer’s colleague at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “By identifying patients in the emergency department who may not know they have hypertension, we may be able to reach people who are not traditionally enrolled in hypertension programs.
“Specifically, we hope our strategy reduces cardiovascular disparities by enrolling subjects who are more likely to use the emergency department — African-Americans and socioeconomically disadvantaged patients — and have uncontrolled hypertension.”
Both physicians are co-principal investigators on a new, $2.8 million National Institutes of Health-funded emergency department trial intended to reach these patients and use text-messaging technology to help improve their outcomes after they are discharged.