Blood pressure control and drug therapy in patients with diagnosed hypertension: a survey in Italian general practice

J Hum Hypertens. 2009 Nov;23(11):758-63. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2009.14. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


Blood pressure (BP) control remains unsatisfactory worldwide. Better knowledge of BP management in clinical practice is needed to develop more effective improving strategies. Using a large Italian primary care database, we selected the subjects diagnosed with hypertension, and extracted the diagnosis of myocardial infarction, angina pectoris/coronary disease, stroke/transitory ischemic attack (TIA), heart failure, atrial fibrillation, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes mellitus, the serum total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, creatinine, BP, electrocardiogram, weight, height and the prescription of cardiovascular (CV) drugs. Hypertension was recorded in 119.065 individuals (prevalence 19.3%), 19.134 (16%) had no ambulatory visit and 33.183 (27.8%) had no BP value recorded. Overall, 14.594 (21.9%) had at least one recorded diagnosis showing high CV risk. BP was controlled (mean of BP values <140/90 mm Hg) in 28.918 patients (16.690 women, 12 189 men and 40 gender not recorded), that is, 43.23% of the subjects with recorded BP. Among the non-controlled patients, 21.866 (57.8%) were non-high risk grade 1 (mean BP 142.5/84.5 mm Hg; s.d. 13.1/8.2) and 7.123 (18.8%) high-risk grade 1 hypertensives (mean BP 150/83 mm Hg; s.d. 6.2/7.2). Less than three drugs were prescribed in 29.919 (79.1%) of non-controlled patients. Low attendance rate, BP under-recording and suboptimal use of politherapy are major obstacles to hypertension control. Most uncontrolled individuals are low-CV risk, grade 1 hypertensive patients, for whom the personal benefit of adding another drug is modest. Aiming at the recommended BP target in uncontrolled grade 2-3 hypertensive/high-CV risk patients would probably require two additional drugs.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Drug Utilization
  • Family Practice* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'* / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents