Statistics released by Fedhealth indicate that hypertension is the top chronic condition by frequency amongst its members, with 12.1% of Fedhealth members currently registered on the chronic medicine programme suffering from hypertension.
"The average authorised cost of medication for hypertension per patient for the 2011 benefit year amounted to R1 770.00 per patient per annum. This amounts to an annual chronic medication cost for this particular disease category of R32 118 037.00 per annum which accounts for 24.3% of the overall chronic medication spend," says Peter Jordaan, Principal Officer of Fedhealth.
Jordaan emphasises that these figures are conservative, as there are likely a number of undiagnosed members who are unaware that they even have hypertension and are therefore not contributing to these statistics.
Know you blood pressure numbers
"Although we can account for overall chronic medication costs for hypertension, it is difficult to assign an exact amount to the overall costs of hypertension as the complications resulting from this condition also contribute greatly towards annual costs," adds Jordaan.
"Hypertension very often leads to hospitalisation where the member will require treatment for complications such as renal failure, dialysis, and coronary artery disease, amongst others. By getting blood pressure under control, a myriad of subsequent complications and costs could be reduced or avoided," comments Jordaan.
Jordaan urges members to know their blood pressure numbers even if they are in seemingly good health, as early treatment may prevent severe related complications such as a heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.
Hypertension is a silent killer
"Hypertension is often referred to as the 'silent killer' as people may have the condition for years without knowing it. During this time, the condition can cause irreparable damage to your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of your body. Adopting a healthier lifestyle can greatly assist members in maintaining an acceptable and healthy blood pressure range," he says. Any high-cost category within a medical scheme inevitably costs its members so it is advisable that they check with the scheme if there is any type of high-risk beneficiary management programme which they can be part of.
"The primary aim of these programmes is to influence the behaviour in high-risk members and provide the support and information that they require.
This is usually facilitated through direct interventions with identified beneficiaries by providing them with access to appropriate health and hypertension information that is easy to understand," explains Jordaan.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
"Medically trained personnel call these patients to obtain a full analysis of their knowledge of the condition, compliance to medication and the severity of the disease. Further personalised information on the risk areas identified is then sent to the beneficiary."
In terms of reducing risk, Jordaan emphasises the need for members to adopt healthier lifestyles.
"Diet, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, smoking and stress are the biggest contributing factors to hypertension. If you are already on medication for the condition, make sure that you take it as prescribed and have the necessary medical check-ups or tests as advised by your doctor.
Everyone should have their blood pressure checked regularly," he concludes.
For more information contact Nicolle Kairuz on 011 463 6372 OR NICOLLE@FINDLEYPR.CO.ZA
(Press release, March 2012)