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HealthPartners Institute designs tool to help spot high blood pressure in kids earlier

After showing promising results in an initial study, the “TeenBP” tool will now be used in all HealthPartners primary care clinics

By Elyse Kharbanda, MD, MPH
February 1, 2018

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Hypertension is having high blood pressure at 3 or more medical visits. It is not common in children and teens, but it is still important to identify and treat it when it does happen. That is why HealthPartners Institute investigators (including myself!) are leading a study to help spot hypertension in youth.

Children usually get their blood pressure checked by their doctor or nurse during medical visits. But there are a lot of things being checked up on during these visits, so high blood pressure (which usually has no symptoms) can sometimes be missed. This is why our team developed the “TeenBP” tool. The tool is linked to the child’s medical record. It displays blood pressure readings from the prior year. And it alerts providers when a patient has hypertension and tells them what the next steps for care should be for that particular person.

HealthPartners clinics partnered with us to test how well the tool works. The ten clinics that used “TeenBP” more than doubled their rates for identifying hypertension. The tool also successfully helped patients get matched with the best care to treat their high blood pressure. For most, the first treatment is making changes their diet and exercise habits.

Because of these results, the “TeenBP” tool will soon be used at all of our HealthPartners primary care clinics. And my team is hopeful that that will be a first step in helping more youth with hypertension live longer and healthier lives!

About Elyse Kharbanda, MD, MPH

Dr. Elyse Kharbanda is a Senior Investigator at HealthPartners Institute and a Board Certified Pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine specialist. Her research is broadly focused on using technology to improve the quality of care delivered and to improve health for pregnant women, children and adolescents. Prior to joining HealthPartners, she was an Assistant Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and Public Health at Columbia University. Dr. Kharbanda lives in Minneapolis with her husband (who is the Chief of Critical Care Services at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota), son and daughter. When not working, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, being active outdoors, cooking, and rooting for the Vikings and Minnesota United.

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