More than 90% of individuals with high BP have been prescribed antihypertensive drugs


CHICAGO —Hypertensive patients basically understand the link between high BP and cardiovascular risk, but wide misconceptions persist, according to data released at the 22nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension.

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Marvin Moser, MD, president of the Hypertension Education Foundation in Scarsdale, N.Y., and his colleagues analyzed responses to an online questionnaire completed by 1,245 patients 45 years of age or older. The questionnaire, administered by Harris Interactive, was designed to obtain data on the extent of BP control in different populations and to better understand the reasons for inadequate BP control.


More than 90% of respondents correctly associated high BP with heart attacks and stroke, said Dr. Moser, who is clinical professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Hypertension. More than 60% correctly linked high BP with kidney failure, atherosclerosis, or an enlarged heart. In addition, more than two thirds knew that 120/80 mm Hg was an optimal BP level.


About 12% of respondents, however, believed that hypertension means that a person is tense or anxious, and about a fourth thought weight loss alone can normalize BP. More than a quarter of respondents believed that they do not have to exercise regularly because they are taking medication to control BP, and about a fifth believed that salt intake does not have to be restricted because they thought they were “protected” by drug treatment.


Some 60% of respondents were obese, defined as a BMI greater than 30 kg/m2, and about 50% had additional coronary risk factors. More than half of respondents had their hypertension diagnosed during a routine office visit.


The survey revealed that treatment levels were high. Over 90% of the patients had been prescribed antihypertensive drug therapy, and 98% said their health-care provider checked their BP at each visit.


More than one third of respondents, however, had uncontrolled hypertension the last time their BP was checked, and about one third remained on the same therapy even when their BP remained high while on drug therapy.


“While patients’ lack of compliance has been cited as the key reason for inadequate blood pressure control, our data show that health-care providers are a major contributor because they fail to change treatment or add on therapy when blood pressure control is suboptimal,” Dr. Moser observed.