Aim: The effectiveness of the support of a healthcare practitioner and a family member in producing changes in cardiovascular risk factor modification was tested in a randomised, controlled trial in patients with hypertension.
Methods: The primary outcome measured after the 24-week intervention was blood pressure change. Secondary outcomes included patients' adherence to the programme, their knowledge about hypertension, exercise capacity, body weight, self-reported ability to control stress, adherence to medication and salt restriction, as well as symptoms.
Results: There were no marked improvements in blood pressure regulation in either group. The differences between the experimental and control groups were 3 mmHg (CI -6.18-12.18) for systolic blood pressure and 4 mmHg (CI -1.48-9.48) for diastolic blood pressure. The estimated blood pressure effects were small increases in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure, due to larger changes in the control group. These small changes were of no clinical significance. This intervention was not successful in reducing blood pressure of hypertensive patients who participated in a lifestyle programme. Secondary outcomes did show positive changes as a result of the given intervention. The absolute difference in improvement between the two groups was significantly greater for the experimental group than for the control group for the following variables: 24% better adherence to the programme (p = 0.007); 10% higher mean percentage score of hypertension knowledge and its management (p = 0.04); 20% more patients could control their stress levels (p = 0.05); 26% more patients could control their salt ingestion (p = 0.02); and 20% had better adherence to their given medication regimen (p = 0.05). The experimental group had a statistically significant weight reduction of 1 (+/- 4) kg relative to the control group (p = 0.03). Both groups increased their exercise capacity during the trial (p = 0.03). On the completion of the intervention, significantly fewer patients in the experimental group than in the control complained of tiredness (p = 0.05). Patients who had a 75% adherence or more to the programme were found to have maintained their knowledge and their exercise capacity, but not their weight loss after a maintenance phase of 12 weeks, during which time there was no intervention.
Conclusion: Patients in a supported environment such as the one in this study were able to modify their cardiovascular risk factors, even though there were non-significant changes in blood pressure reported in this study.