Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hypertension study prompts new diagnosis guidance
By Kate Kelland
(Reuters) - Taking repeated blood pressure readings over a 24-hour period rather than a one-off measurement in the clinic is the most cost-effective way of deciding who should be prescribed drugs for hypertension, according to a study published Wednesday.

The findings in favor of so-called ambulatory blood pressure monitoring were immediately adopted by Britain's health costs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), in new guidelines on how to diagnose and when to treat high blood pressure.

Those diagnosed with hypertension are often prescribed one of many blood-pressure lowering drugs such as Novartis's Lotensin or generic benazepril, candesartan, sold as Atacand by AstraZeneca and Takeda, or Novartis' Diovan, known generically as valsartan.

Patients are often prescribed the drugs for many years if not the rest of their lives.

"Ambulatory monitoring allows better targeting of blood pressure treatment to those who will receive most benefit," said Richard McManus of Britain's Birmingham University, who led a study published in The Lancet medical journal which prompted the NICE guideline change.

"It is cost saving in the long term as well as more effective, and so will be good for patients and doctors alike."

Diagnosis of hypertension has traditionally been based on blood-pressure measurements in the clinic, but studies have found that home and ambulatory measurements are better indicators of who will suffer heart problems and strokes.


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