When COVID-19 caused lockdowns and restricted movement across the province, BC Renal responded with a home blood pressure monitoring initiative that is resulting in positive benefits for staff education and kidney patient empowerment.
Typically, B.C. kidney patients who aren't on dialysis or haven't had a kidney transplant have had their blood pressure taken at one of 15 Kidney Care Clinics (or Centres) around B.C. These clinics are run by the regional health authorities as well as BC Children's Hospital as part of PHSA. They provide direct care to patients and are part of the BC Renal provincial network.
“The pandemic was a real push to get kidney clinic-based training underway for patients," explains Dr. Mike Bevilacqua, chair of BC Renal's provincial Kidney Care Committee. “Blood pressure monitoring is a cornerstone of our clinics' services. Numerous COVID-19-driven restrictions have underscored the need to make sure more kidney patients are performing at-home blood pressure monitoring and that everyone is doing it right."
In recent studies, monitoring blood pressure at home has been shown to predict health outcomes better than in-clinic blood pressure measurements. This is because measurements can be taken more often and patients feel more relaxed in their familiar home setting than the doctor's office.
“Monitoring blood pressure is particularly important because high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors of kidney disease and kidney disease progression," says Dr. Bevilacqua. "Next to diabetes, high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure in North America. Even for patients who have poor kidney health from a cause other than high blood pressure, blood pressure management is an essential part of treating kidney disease."
BC Renal's action plan has been two-fold:
- Upskill kidney care clinic staff to teach patients to carry out home blood pressure monitoring in a uniform way.
- Ensure patients have the knowledge and resources they need.
This YouTube video is one of the many resources available to support home blood pressure monitoring.
Dr. Bevilacqua says The Kidney Foundation of Canada, a key BC Renal partner, has also stepped up to assist. “BC Renal is working with the foundation's BC & Yukon Branch to ensure kidney patients who need help buying a home blood pressure monitoring system can get funding assistance."
The home blood pressure monitoring system not only allows kidney patients to share recent, accurate results with their family doctor or another primary care provider, it also allows these general practitioners to ensure their patients have the right blood pressure medications and that any necessary changes can happen quickly.
Dr. Bevilacqua says, “The BC Renal initiative is providing multiple positive outcomes for our patients and staff and home blood pressure monitoring could benefit any patient who should have their blood pressure checked regularly."