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Kathleen Ohman, Nursing


The goal of this quality improvement project was to promote better blood pressure control for residents in a long-term care facility (LTC) who have primary hypertension and potentially reduce the costs associated with their care. Data has shown that nationally, persons with hypertension as a comorbidity pay nearly $2,000 more in healthcare costs compared to their non-hypertensive counterparts (Kirkland, 2018). Chart audits revealed that 63% of residents on a single wing had a diagnosis of primary hypertension and had incidences of high blood pressure recordings. A survey of staff at the LTC faculty showed that 13 out of 15 staff members claimed that residents with a diagnosis of hypertension require more care while one staff member disagreed, and one staff member said they did not know. Despite interventions such as antihypertensive medications, daily physical therapy and modified diets, uncontrolled hypertension was still prevalent with these LTC residents. Research has shown that dark chocolate is a non-pharmacological intervention that could augment medications to help control high blood pressure. Average blood pressures were determined for residents who consented to participate in this project. Dark chocolate was administered once daily to 9 participants over the course of 3 weeks. After implementing the daily chocolate intake, another audit was completed to compare the average blood pressures and evaluate whether any blood pressure changes occurred. Hypertension is very costly for long-term care facilities due to frequent hospitalizations and complication-related readmission, which are paid for by the facility (Kirkland, 2018). Thus, engaging in non-pharmacological interventions such as dark chocolate may potentially reduce costs to the LTC facility if shown to be effective.