Skip to main content

Medical professionals find online games effective in lowering blood pressure

May 28, 2014

In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for seniors, it's essential to monitor important factors, such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels and sleeping patterns. There are several ways that older adults can keep these things in check, from altering their diets to adopting stress-relieving activities. However, one of the most important ways seniors can arm themselves against unhealthy patterns is by becoming more educated about keeping their physical health in check.

Doctors offer pamphlets, online guides and even instructional videos for patients who wish to learn more about treating their conditions, but according to new research published in the American Heart Association's Circulation: Quality and Outcomes journal, interactive video games may be the most effective way to lower blood pressure in patients.

Video game effectively lowers levels
Scientists recently discovered that engaging with an educational video game was much more effective in lowering patients' blood pressure levels than traditional online resources. B. Price Kerfoot, lead author of the study and associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, explained in a press release from the American Heart Association that health care providers who interacted with these games produced patients who were much more informed about ways to lower their blood pressure levels. Doctors were divided into two groups: one that learned about methods through traditional means and another that used the online VA Hypertension Spaced-Education Game. Those who used the game to inform their patients about the condition had higher retention and success rates.

"Clinicians may be familiar with the guidelines, but often that knowledge isn't translated effectively into practice," Kerfoot said, as quoted by the AHA. "Spaced-Education appears to engage learners in such a way that translates evidence-based guidelines into clinician practice patterns. Testing can help with retention."

According to the findings, 2.3 percent more patients achieved normal blood pressure with the game, as opposed to those who were informed by other means.

Seniors must select apps with caution
While this game may currently only be available to seniors' caregivers, there exists a variety of other games and apps designed to educate older adults about their blood pressure levels and habits to keep them healthy. However, according to a separate report from HealthDay News, two recent studies highlighted the danger of relying primarily on these apps for medical guidance. Although some of these digital forms may be effective in educating older adults, seniors should be sure to use only those with verified developers. Researchers agreed that these technologies have been instrumental for improving patients' education - especially by providing senior health tips - people must thoroughly research their sources before taking advice.