The cost-effectiveness of treatment for hypertension depends on the pretreatment level of blood pressure, age and sex of the patient, presence of other cardiovascular risk factors, long-term control of blood pressure, and the annual costs of treatment. Treatment of very mild hypertension (diastolic blood pressure, 90-94 mm Hg), even if the benefits do exceed the risks, does not appear to be particularly cost-effective. Opportunities to improve the cost-effectiveness of hypertension management lie in 1) avoidance of patient mislabeling by careful documentation of blood pressures on multiple occasions in the office and during usual activities outside the office before the diagnosis is made and treatment is begun; 2) efforts to increase adherence to scheduled visits and medication regimens; 3) attempts to step-down dosages or discontinue medications after periods of good blood pressure control; 4) explicit consideration of costs, as well as benefits, in decisions on the needed frequency of office visits, choice of medications, and use of laboratory tests; and 5) efforts to improve practice efficiency. Future practice guidelines for hypertension management should take these factors into account and should make trade-offs between benefits, risks, and costs explicit for specific types of patients.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association