Management of older patients with hypertension in primary care: improvement on the rule of halves.
Duggan S., Eccles MP., Steen N., Jones S., Ford GA.
OBJECTIVES: the benefits of treatment of hypertension in older people are well-established but implementation of this knowledge may be sub-optimal. We have determined recent primary care management of older people with hypertension. METHODS: we examined health records (n = 6986) of a 1 in 7 sample of patients aged 65-80 years from a random sample of practices (n = 51) in the former Northern Region of the UK, stratified by health authority, for the previous 6 years. We recorded documented risk factors, diagnosis of hypertension, three most recent blood pressure readings, current drug therapy and previous blood pressure lowering therapy, and presence of coexistent pathology. RESULTS: blood pressure was defined as hypertensive (> or = 160/> or = 90 mmHg; one or both values above these limits), normotensive or undetermined using a validated algorithm. In 30% of patients, blood pressure status was undetermined. Thirty-five percent of subjects were found to be hypertensive. Of these, 70% were receiving antihypertensive treatment but only 30% of treated patients had controlled (< 150 and 90 mmHg) and 13% well controlled (< 140 and 85 mmHg) blood pressure. In all, 14% of older hypertensive patients were detected, treated and had their hypertension controlled. There were significant differences between practices in the proportion of hypertensive patients treated (P < 0.001) and in the proportion of hypertensive patients whose blood pressure was controlled (P < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: treatment of hypertension in older people in primary care has improved in terms of detection and treatment but in only one-third of patients is high blood pressure controlled. There remain important opportunities for prevention of stroke and myocardial infarction in this age group through achieving improved blood pressure control.