New cost-benefit analysis shows benefits of home blood pressure monitoring

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Home BP MonitorMore than 76 million American adults have diagnosed high blood pressure (HBP), also known as hypertension, and many more have undiagnosed HBP, which most commonly is asymptomatic. Yet, HBP is the most important underlying risk factor linked to a variety of cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease (heart attack and angina), stroke, and heart failure.

Since HBP often has no symptoms, periodic testing becomes more important. With a home monitoring kit people can test their blood pressure at regular intervals over several days or weeks. People with hypertension (a synonym for HBP) should monitor their blood pressure levels at home, along with regular monitoring by their doctor, according to the American Heart Association. A new study in the AHA journal Hypertension was designed to assess the cost-benefit of covering home BP monitoring under insurance programs.

For the study, researchers analyzed data collected between 2008 and 2011 from almost 34,000 people in two health insurance plans. The investigators found high blood pressure in 6 percent of people aged 20 to 44, 34 percent of those aged 45 to 64, and 60 percent of those 65 and older. Depending on the insurance plan and patient age, the study found the net savings achieved with home blood pressure monitoring ranged from $33 to $166 per person in the first year, and $415 to $1,364 over 10 years. For each dollar spent on home blood pressure kits, insurers could expect a return of 85 cents to $3.75 in the first year, and $7.50 to $19.34 over 10 years.

"Home blood pressure monitors should be reimbursed, widely adopted across America and integrated into current clinical practice for diagnosis and treatment of hypertension," lead author Alejandro Arrieta, assistant professor in the department of health policy and management at Florida International University in Miami reported in MedlinePlus. "By improving the accuracy of their blood pressure assessment and by monitoring their blood pressures outside the clinic setting, patients help themselves, help their physicians and save money for insurance companies," Arrieta said.