What to Know About Telehealth for Blood Pressure

Having chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, can affect many aspects of your health. Hypertension is the leading cause of other serious health problems such as heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Therefore, ongoing care is important for people with this condition.

High blood pressure is very common in the United States. It affects 45% of U.S. adults.

This is where telehealth shines. With telehealth, you can access care for high blood pressure from the comfort of your home.

Telehealth refers to remote medical appointments conducted using telecommunications technology like videoconferencing and phone calls. Keep in mind, there are still situations where you would need to see your healthcare provider in person.

Make sure you review with your providers and medical care team what aspects of your blood pressure care can be conducted through telehealth and when you need to visit your doctor’s office.

Telehealth visits can be an easy way to monitor your blood pressure.

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When to Use Telehealth for Treating Blood Pressure

A 2019 study examined the effectiveness of telehealth-based care for blood pressure management. Telehealth care at home combined with care management by public health nurses based in a center was found to be feasible and effective for improving blood pressure control among people with hypertension.

A person’s blood pressure is measured with two numbers: systolic blood pressure, which is a reading of the pressure exerted in your arteries with each heartbeat, and diastolic blood pressure, a measure of the pressure in your arteries in the period of time when your heart rests in between beats.

What’s a Normal Blood Pressure Reading?

A normal blood pressure reading is less than 120/80 mm Hg, which refers to millimeters of mercury. Generally, high blood pressure is when your reading is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Some healthcare providers may determine high blood pressure to be consistent readings of 130/80 mm Hg.

Your provider will discuss with you the best ways to approach diagnosing, treating, and monitoring high blood pressure. These are some scenarios when telehealth may be your best option:

  • Reviewing your health history: Your provider may ask for a telehealth screening appointment before scheduling an in-person visit. You may be asked about any potential symptoms or changes in your health, and whether you have any family history of hypertension or any related conditions. Your healthcare provider will also look over any test results or past blood pressure readings.
  • Conducting at-home blood pressure monitoring: Your provider may ask you to monitor your blood pressure at home and review the results through a telehealth appointment. This is known as self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring. Regular monitoring may be required over time.
  • Being unable to travel to an in-person appointment: If you don’t readily have access to transportation, don’t have the chance to take time out of work to travel to your provider’s office, or are elderly, then telehealth may be the easiest option.
  • Consulting your doctor about prescriptions: A virtual telehealth appointment is an easy way for you to seek immediate care if you need authorization from a provider to refill your medications or need a consultation about any new prescriptions. Your healthcare provider will arrange for your prescriptions to be sent to a pharmacy near you.

You May Need to Be Seen in Person If...

  • You are showing signs of a heart attack or stroke: High blood pressure is often called a “silent killer” since there generally are no clear symptoms or warning signs. Similarly, deadly conditions associated with high blood pressure, like heart attack and stroke, can occur suddenly. If you think you are experiencing signs of a heart attack or stroke, contact your provider or seek emergency medical attention immediately.
  • You are experiencing a reaction from blood pressure medications: Some people may have reactions to blood pressure medications. If you see a sudden change in your health or think you are having a reaction, seek in-person medical attention immediately.
  • You experience other sudden changes in your health: In extreme instances, dangerously high blood pressure can manifest in dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), headaches, tingling and numbness in the feet or hands, confusion, drowsiness, and nosebleeds. If you notice these symptoms, seek in-person care right away.

Benefits and Challenges

Even though telehealth is still relatively new, it can be particularly helpful in treating a range of conditions, including high blood pressure:

  • Regular at-home monitoring: Recent research showed just how readily study participants embraced telehealth for blood pressure monitoring. Out of 432 people recruited to take part in a study on telehealth’s effectiveness for blood pressure, 94% completed their course of data collection, which involved using at-home blood pressure monitors and sending readings back to their telehealth providers. Given how blood pressure can shift over time, telehealth makes it easy to regularly self-monitor and relay any changes in blood pressure levels to a provider.
  • Avoidance of “white coat hypertension”: Some people experience what is known as white coat hypertension. This refers to people getting higher-than-normal blood pressure readings because they feel stressed, anxious, or uncomfortable while in a medical setting. Taking readings at home and sending them to your provider can help you get the most accurate reading if you typically experience white coat hypertension.
  • Easy access to providers: One of the key benefits of telehealth services is that they readily connect people to a range of providers and medical experts who may be geographically out of reach. For those who don’t have access to a vehicle or are not close to public transportation, it gives them the chance to get specialized care from the comfort of home. Older adults who may not be able to get to a doctor’s office easily may prefer telehealth appointments as well.
  • Cost-effectiveness: A recent 2020 review revealed that telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be relatively cost effective, opening up medical care to a greater number of people.

However, not every insurance provider covers telehealth visits. Additionally, access to technology can create a major barrier to telehealth services. If a person doesn’t have a reliable Internet connection, technological devices, or health insurance, telehealth may be out of reach.

How to Prepare for a Telehealth Visit for Blood Pressure

Here are ways you can prepare for a telehealth visit for blood pressure:

  • Be organized with your technology: You have to make sure your technology is in order. If you are scheduled for a videoconferencing appointment, make sure you have either a portable camera connected to your computer or that the camera in your device is working properly. Also, have any login information readily available and ensure that the software on your device or provider’s app are updated to the latest versions. Try to do a test beforehand to be sure everything is working properly.
  • Connect with your insurance provider: Given that not every health insurance provider covers telehealth services, make sure this will be covered by your plan ahead of time, and if not, understand the costs associated with your telehealth appointment. Check out information about your specific health insurance plan online or call your insurance provider directly to speak with a representative who can answer your questions.
  • Be prepared for the call: Ahead of your call, make sure you’re in a quiet room with no distractions. If you are using video, be sure you are in a well-lit room and double-check your WiFi connection prior to the meeting.
  • Write down questions beforehand: It’s always important to come prepared with questions before any health appointment. If you have any questions or concerns about changes in your blood pressure, for instance, come prepared with a list of questions. If possible, try to do some research before the call. Be prepared if your provider asks you about your personal or family health history.

Will Insurance Cover Telehealth for Blood Pressure?

Unfortunately, there is no standard answer to this question. Insurance coverage for telehealth visits of all kinds varies greatly depending on the provider. Before you set up a telehealth appointment, review your plan’s coverage to see if they cover telehealth. You should contact your insurance provider ahead of time if you have any questions. Make sure to also check out your local government’s website or health hotline to see if there have been changes in Medicaid and Medicare telehealth coverage in your state.

What Happens During a Visit?

Here is what you can expect from a telehealth visit for monitoring or diagnosing high blood pressure:

  • Questions from your provider: Your healthcare provider will ask you a wide range of questions about your general health and past personal and family health history. Some questions they may ask include the following: Do you have a family history of hypertension? Do you have a family history of heart disease, heart attack, or stroke? Have you experienced a heart attack, heart disease symptoms, or a stroke in the past? Do you exercise regularly? What does your diet consist of? Do you have comorbid conditions like diabetes or obesity?
  • Scheduling of future appointments: Your provider may ask you to come in for an in-person physical exam. They may want you to come in to further monitor your blood pressure and check for other symptoms. Your provider may also set up regular remote telehealth appointments to check your progress and continue to monitor your blood pressure.

It will also benefit you to take notes during your appointment in a notebook, journal, or on your device for future reference.

A Word From Verywell

Monitoring your blood pressure is important for assessing your overall health, especially if you have hypertension. It can help you and your provider keep an eye out for serious conditions like heart disease. Telehealth is a great way to do that.

However, telehealth appointments may just be one piece in your overall care for high blood pressure. You may still need to go to a medical office for in-person visits. Telehealth complements your overall care, giving you easy access to a wide range of specialists while also keeping your blood pressure and other health concerns in check.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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