Personalized Blood Pressure Therapy May Help Diabetics

WEDNESDAY May 30, 2012 -- Aggressive efforts to control blood pressure in people with diabetes may be leading to overtreatment with blood pressure drugs in some patients, a new study suggests.

Researchers examined data from nearly 1 million diabetes patients treated at Veterans Affairs health facilities across the United States and found that as many as 82 percent were receiving treatment to keep their blood pressure under control.

However, more than 8 percent of patients were possibly being overtreated to control their blood pressure, and 6 percent were not being treated as aggressively as they could be, the study found.

The findings, published online May 28 in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, suggest that the current one-size-fits-all method of blood pressure control needs to be reconsidered, the researchers said.

This personalized approach should be possible with the help of electronic health records, which can combine blood pressure, prescription and other health data on patients' individual risks such as heart disease or balance problems, the study authors explained in a University of Michigan Health System news release.

"Appropriately treating blood pressure in people with diabetes is extremely important, and good blood pressure control should still be the goal to reduce risk of heart attack, stroke and other conditions," first author Dr. Eve Kerr, director of the Center for Clinical Management Research at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in the news release.

"But just treating to a blood pressure target in all patients may result in overtreating and harming some patients because their blood pressures actually fall too low," she added. "We need to find better ways to measure and incentivize appropriate blood pressure management to make sure that patients who need aggressive treatment are getting it, and to decrease the rate of inappropriate overtreatment."

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about high blood pressure and diabetes.

Posted: May 2012


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