Cost and quality trade-offs in the treatment of hypertension.
The cost-effectiveness of treatment for hypertension is positively related to the level of pretreatment blood pressure and to the level of success in achieving patient adherence to prescribed medical regimens. Opportunities to improve the cost-effectiveness of treatment include limiting treatment to patients with well-documented sustained increases in blood pressure, giving higher priority to the treatment of patients with diastolic blood pressures of 100 mm Hg and above, and relying on lower-cost medications if clinical responses to treatment permit. In patients with mild hypertension, a comparison of strategies for initiating pharmacological treatment that takes into account potential side effects as well as the costs of medications indicates a difference of $270/patient-yr between the least and most expensive alternatives. Whether the additional costs of more expensive treatment strategies are "worth it" depend on any additional health benefits actually conferred. Moreover, higher-cost strategies may have negative influences on patients' decisions to adhere to prescribed regimens or to continue in treatment. Cost is a particular problem for the treatment of chronic conditions like hypertension because of inadequate insurance coverage for medications, especially for the poor.
- Copyright © 1989 by American Heart Association