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Health Aff (Millwood). 2007 Jan-Feb;26(1):97-110.

The value of antihypertensive drugs: a perspective on medical innovation.

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  • 1Department of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.


Using national survey data and risk equations from the Framingham Heart Study, we quantify the impact of antihypertensive therapy changes on blood pressures and the number and cost of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths. Antihypertensive therapy has had a major impact on health. Without it, 1999-2000 average blood pressures (at age 40+) would have been 10-13 percent higher, and 86,000 excess premature deaths from cardiovascular disease would have occurred in 2001. Treatment has generated a benefit-to-cost ratio of at least 6:1, but much more can be achieved. More effective use of antihypertensive medication would have an impact on mortality akin to eliminating all deaths from medical errors or accidents.

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