According to Statistics Canada, approximately 5.3 million Canadians, or 17.7 per cent of the population, over 12 years of age reported being diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2013 alone.
If you’re among them, you may want to consider a bit of online counselling before you start popping pills or head to your doctor’s office for some lifestyle advice.
Recent research lead by scientists at the University of Toronto found that web-based counselling had a significant impact on people suffering from high blood pressure (which is anything higher than 140/90 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg).
The study divided 264 participants who were around 58 years old into two groups. For a year, the control group received weekly and monthly emails pointing to basic information on heart-healthy living, while the experimental group received emails with links to videos, interactive tools and other multimedia designed to replicate face-to-face consultation and motivate them to sustain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Both groups saw a tremendous improvement without the help of blood pressure meds. But wouldn’t you know it, those in the experimental group experienced the greatest benefits — who doesn’t love clicking links and watching videos, after all? — and saw their blood pressure drop by an average of 10 mmHg compared to the six mmHg average improvement of the control group.
“The electronic counselling intervention had an effect similar to that of adding an additional blood-pressure-lowering medication,” said Robert Nolan, the study’s lead author and an associate professor at the University of Toronto. “We think this lifestyle counselling intervention can complement and optimize the effectiveness of medical therapy to reduce high blood pressure.”
The study’s findings beg the question: What other health benefits could we be receiving through a weekly email? We’d definitely sign up for a newsletter to help us lose weight, or to improve our mental health or to eat better. In fact, sign us up for all of them.