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New Diabetes Guidelines May Lower Patient Medical Bills
Date:12/20/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- New guidelines issued by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) Thursday may reduce the number of people who need to take blood pressure medications, and they may help more people get insurance coverage for testing their blood sugar levels.

"We're constantly looking at the data to try to make our treatment guidelines as personalized and as consistent as possible," said Dr. Robert Ratner, chief scientific and medical officer for the ADA.

And, that's exactly what happened with the ADA's first significant change in this year's guidelines. The ADA is lowering the bar for its systolic blood pressure goal -- going from less than 130 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) to less than 140 mm/Hg. Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading.

"The early evidence suggested that greater control of blood pressure in people with diabetes might make more of a difference, so we originally set the guidelines to try to protect people with diabetes. What's changed is that we've had other studies that have been unable to show a benefit from controlling blood pressure tighter than 130/80, so we thought it was unreasonable to suggest that people control to the lower goal," Ratner explained.

By loosening the target goal for blood pressure, people can take fewer medications, which may save them money and prevent unnecessary side effects, according to Ratner.

But, the more attainable blood pressure target shouldn't be interpreted to mean that controlling blood pressure isn't important for people with diabetes. Treating high blood pressure reduces the risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The second significant change in the latest guidelines recommend focusing on a person's needs and treatment goals when determining how often to check blood sugar levels
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