Blood pressure control still short of standards

Health plans accredited by the National Committee for Quality Assurance are twice as likely as nonaccredited plans to meet government standards for controlling blood pressure, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Controlled blood pressure is <140 mm Hg systolic and <90 mm Hg diastolic. About 67 million people in the United States have high blood pressure. An estimated 46,000 deaths could be avoided annually if 70% of patients with high blood pressure were treated, according to published guidelines.

In 2012, blood pressure was controlled in only 64% of members who were enrolled in HEDIS-reporting plans and who had diagnosed hypertension.The population comprises plan members ages 18–85 who had one or more outpatient encounters in which a diagnosis of hypertension that was not pregnancy-related or complicated by end-stage renal disease was recorded during the first six months of the measurement period.

While falling short of the 70% mark, it’s a slight improvement from 2010, and the change makes the MMWR authors think that the 70% goal might be achieved in the next few years. Modest improvements occurred in the 50th and 90th percentile plan-levels, the study says.

“The higher-performing plan categories are accredited commercial and Medicare Advantage HMOs, compared to the PPO population and Medicaid,” says Milesh M. Patel, MS, the lead author of the report.

Members with hypertension with controlled blood pressure by plan category, type, and year, according to HEDIS scores

Source: “Progress of Health Plans Toward Meeting the Million Hearts Clinical Target for High Blood Pressure Control – United States, 2010–2012,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Feb. 14, 2014

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