Background: Despite convincing evidence that lowering blood pressure decreases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, the hypertension burden remains high and control rates are poor in developing countries.
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of 2 community-based interventions on blood pressure in hypertensive adults.
Design: Cluster randomized, 2 x 2 factorial, controlled trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov registration number: NCT00327574)
Setting: 12 randomly selected communities in Karachi, Pakistan.
Patients: 1341 patients 40 years or older with hypertension (systolic blood pressure >or=140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure >or=90 mm Hg, or already receiving treatment).
Measurements: Reduction in systolic blood pressure from baseline to end of follow-up at 2 years.
Intervention: Family-based home health education (HHE) from lay health workers every 3 months and annual training of general practitioners (GPs) in hypertension management.
Results: The age, sex, and baseline blood pressure-adjusted decrease in systolic blood pressure was significantly greater in the HHE and GP group (10.8 mm Hg [95% CI, 8.9 to 12.8 mm Hg]) than in the GP-only, HHE-only, or no intervention groups (5.8 mm Hg [CI, 3.9 to 7.7 mm Hg] in each; P < 0.001). The interaction between the main effects of GP training and HHE on the primary outcome approached significance (interaction P = 0.004 in intention-to-treat analysis and P = 0.044 in per-protocol analysis).
Limitations: Follow-up blood pressure measurements were missing for 22% of patients. No mechanism was detected by which interventions lowered blood pressure.
Conclusion: Family-based HHE delivered by trained lay health workers, coupled with educating GPs on hypertension, can lead to significant blood pressure reductions among patients with hypertension in Pakistan. Both strategies in combination may be feasible for upscaling within the existing health care systems of Indo-Asian countries.
Primary funding source: Wellcome Trust.