Geneia data scientists create insights to improve hypertension treatment and management.
Data Science

Why hypertension is a focus for the Geneia Data Intelligence Lab

January 27, 2021
Geneia data scientists generated hypertension insights.
Lead Principal Data Scientist

In the past few years, many of us have become aware of the pervasiveness of diabetes and prediabetes. Chances are you’ve seen ads about the prevalence of prediabetes such as this one. advertisement

If you’re a regular Geneia blog reader, you are likely familiar with Lucy.

She is in her early 40s, the mother of two teenagers and a part-time caregiver for her elderly father. About two years ago, she had prediabetes and was one of the 90 percent who didn’t know it. As we shared in a video about her experience, Lucy is one of the lucky ones. She learned about her prediabetes, and supported by her physician and care team, health plan and employer, Lucy has been engaging in her health and working hard to avoid progressing to diabetes.

In the same way, the healthcare industry joined together to educate Americans about the health and financial challenges of prediabetes and diabetes and the opportunity for patient lifestyle changes to better manage these diagnoses, hypertension has emerged as a priority healthcare concern.

Like prediabetes, hypertension or high blood pressure affects one in three American adults. The prevalence has been increasing across all ages, even children, and increases with age:

  • 20-44 years:     26 percent
  • 45-64 years:     59 percent
  • 65+ years:        78 percent
GDI Lab hypertension risk scores

Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because “most of the time, high blood pressure has no obvious symptoms to indicate something is wrong.” Despite the absence of obvious symptoms, hypertension can cause a host of serious problems. Undetected and uncontrolled hypertension can lead to:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Kidney disease or failure
  • Vision loss
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Angina
  • Peripheral artery disease

A person with hypertension is believed to be “at an increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19.” Hypertension is the leading preventable risk factor for all-cause mortality worldwide.

Because of this, hypertension has become a major focus for the Geneia Data Intelligence Lab.

The Geneia Data Intelligence Lab

At its heart, the Geneia Data Intelligence Lab (GDI Lab) uses leading-edge data science to drive lower healthcare costs and improve health outcomes. In 2020, we wrote frequently about the GDI Lab’s work to create predictive models that identify people at risk for costly and challenging healthcare diagnoses and complications, enabling physicians, hospitals and health plans to intervene and focus on activating identified patients to prevent deleterious outcomes:

We also recorded two podcasts about the GDI Lab, which you can listen to here:

GDI Lab & Hypertension

I’m thrilled to share that GDI Lab data scientists have published two papers about hypertension.

In the paper, Use of machine learning to predict hypertension-related complication outcomes of varying severity, I, in collaboration with Geneia data science and clinical colleagues, detail how we created a “suite of predictive models that can predict future risk of development of hypertension-related complications.”

“To have utility for triaging as well as identifying mild cases before they progress to critical end phases, the models predict three different stages of severity of hypertension-related complications. Our algorithms utilize variables calculated for the most recent 12 months, and predict probability of a hypertension-related complication for the next 12 months using administrative claims as the data source…Features that were important across all models for predictions included total medical cost, cost related to hypertension, age, and number of outpatient visits.”

To read more about how the hypertension complications model is used in clinical practice, click here.

A number of the Geneia data scientists, including chief data scientist Fred Rahmanian, collaborated to analyze hypertension treatment pathways, specifically which treatment, how many prescriptions and how often the treatment is changed, and how they correlate with certain outcomes. In particular, the analysis “highlights opportunities for better alignment with current literature-based recommendations (with respect to initial hypertension treatment choices) and identified a subset of patients as having elevated hypertension risk (based on number of prescription interventions) that may be targeted for clinical/risk management.”

To learn more about the Geneia Data Intelligence Lab, visit: