A community-based care model to control hypertension led by nonphysician health care workers significantly reduced cardiovascular disease risk over 12 months, data from a cluster-controlled randomized study has shown.
Hypertension remains the most common risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but fewer than 20% of individuals with hypertension have their blood pressure controlled, wrote, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., and colleagues. To help control hypertension in underserved populations, the researchers tested a care model involving nonphysician health workers (NPHWs), primary care physicians, and family members.
The HOPE4 study, presented at the annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology and published simultaneously in, included 1,371 adults aged 50 years and older with new or poorly controlled hypertension from 30 communities in Colombia and Malaysia. Sixteen communities were randomized to usual care and 14 to an intervention. The intervention included community screening and treatment of cardiovascular disease risk factors by NPHWs, free medications recommended by NPHWs under physician supervision, and family support for treatment adherence.
After 12 months, the Framingham Risk Scores for 10-year cardiovascular disease risk were significantly lower in the intervention group, compared with the control group (–11.17% vs. –6.40%). In addition, the intervention group showed a significant 11.45 mm Hg greater reduction in systolic blood pressure and a significant 0.41 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol, compared with controls (P less than .0001 for both measures).
Baseline characteristics were similar between the two groups. Approximately 74% of the participants had a history of poorly controlled hypertension, while the remaining patients had new hypertension diagnoses.
“NPHWs were found to be consistently accurate in their ability to identify cardiovascular risk (patient identified by NPHWs as having poorly controlled blood pressure and medication was indicated) and recommend appropriate therapies (antihypertensives and statin as per the study algorithm) when compared with the assessment by local primary care physicians,” the researchers wrote. The study shows how effectively NPHWs can help reduce cardiovascular disease risk at the community level with proper training, effective community outreach, and task sharing with physicians and family members, they noted.
The findings were limited by the inability to assess the safety of specific medications, but no differences in adverse events were reported between the intervention and control groups. Other limitations included the screening of controls for cardiovascular disease risk at baseline, which meant that controls may have modified their behavior as a result, the researchers noted. In addition, the study was not blinded and surrogate outcomes were used because of the short study duration and relatively small sample size, they said.
However, the results support the use of a comprehensive, NPHW-led model, and “the HOPE 4 strategy could help to attain the UN General Assembly Action Plan for a one-third reduction in premature mortality from cardiovascular disease” by 2030, the researchers concluded.
The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Grand Challenges Canada; Ontario SPOR Support Unit and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; Boehringer Ingelheim; Department of Management of Non-Communicable Diseases, World Health Organization; and the Population Health Research Institute. Lead author Dr. Schwalm and several coauthors disclosed grants to their institutions for this study from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Boehringer Ingelheim, and the Department of Management of Non-Communicable Diseases, WHO.
SOURCE: Schwalm J-D et al. Lancet. 2019 Sept 2. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(19)31949-X.