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Incident Depression Increases Medical Utilization in Medicaid Patients with Hypertension

Ian Michael Breunig, Fadia T Shaya, Justin Tevie, and David Roffman


June 12, 2015
Hypertension is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease and occurs disproportionately among patients with depression. Few studies have rigorously examined outcomes specifically among hypertensive patients with newly diagnosed comorbid depression.

Aim: The authors hypothesized that incident depression would exacerbate hypertensive disease and that this would be evident through greater utilization of medical services than would otherwise occur in the absence of depression.

Methods: Claims data for hypertensive patients enrolled in Maryland Medicaid (2005–2010) were used to estimate the change in annualized utilization following incident depression, compared to a matched cohort of hypertensive patients never diagnosed with depression. Multivariate regression was used to adjust for changes in antihypertensive medications, adherence and comorbidity that followed depression onset.

Results: While medical utilization increased after incident depression, additional encounters tended to be for nonacute medical care and there was no significant increase in encounters specifically for cardiovascular or hypertension-related conditions.

Discussion: The results contribute to the discussion on the relationship between depression and cardiovascular disease and will inform future studies that aim to look at longer term outcomes in patients with hypertension.