Hypertension or high blood pressure is possibly the biggest threat to a person's health. Also known as the silent killer, it creeps up without warning and has very few, almost no tell signs. So the key to knowing when to treat this condition would be to know how to spot it. That's where the new blood pressure guidelines come in.
According to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), following the hypertension guidelines released in 2014 could prevent almost 56,000 cardiovascular disease events and 13,000 deaths every year in the United States. It could also reduce overall health care costs.
"Our findings clearly show that it would be worthwhile to significantly increase spending on office visits, home blood pressure monitoring and interventions to improve treatment adherence," said lead author Andrew E. Moran, the Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine at CUMC. He added, "In fact, we could double treatment and monitoring spending for some patients - namely those with severe hypertension - and still break even."
According to the paper that was published in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, the new guidelines released by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute put stage 1 hypertension as a systolic BP of 140-159 mm Hg or a diastolic BP of 90-99 mm Hg. It defines stage 2 or severe hypertension as a systolic BP of 160 mm Hg or higher or a diastolic BP of 100 mm Hg or higher. The 2014 guidelines are less aggressive for some patients, shifting treatment targets to patients with higher blood pressures.
Fewer patients need treatment under the new guidelines, but according to Moran even with the more relaxed goals, an estimated 44 percent of adults with hypertension, or 28 million people, still do not have their blood pressure adequately controlled. The researchers found that full implementation of the new guidelines would save costs by reducing mortality and morbidity related to CVD.
Moran added, "The overall message of our study is that every segment of our health care system, from small medical practices to large insurance companies, can benefit by improving treatment of hypertension.
According to study leader Lee Goldman, Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor of the University, "Given rising health care costs and limited budgets, it is important to determine the cost-effectiveness of implementing the new guidelines and whether we should focus on specific patient subgroups."
With inputs from IANS