BP Overtreatment for Diabetics May Be as Common as Undertreatment at VAThursday, May 31, 2012
The push by the Veterans Administration (VA) to appropriately treat hypertension in patients with diabetes may be resulting in cases of "overtreatment," according to a recent study. Although important progress has been made in treating hypertension in VA hospital patients with diabetes, the research raised concerns that "rates of potential overtreatment are currently approaching, and perhaps even exceeding, the rate of undertreatment and that high rates of achieving current performance measurement targets are directly associated with medication escalation that may increase risk for patients," the study authors say. The study was based on data on hypertension treatment of almost one million VA patients during 2009 and 2010. Overall, the researchers found that eight percent of patients with diabetes received too much blood pressure medication, with rates of potential overtreatment varying at VA facilities from three to 20 percent. Although a recent focus on specific risk-factor thresholds have resulted in improvements in diabetes treatment, "our data suggest that the VA and other high-performing health systems may have reached the point when threshold measures for BP control have the potential to do more harm than good," say the researchers. As a result of the study and the researchers` recommendations, the VA is instituting evidence-based treatment measures for clinical actions to manage hypertension in patients with diabetes.