Background: It is unclear whether blood pressure control varies across the spectrum of atherosclerotic risk.
Methods: We used data from nonpregnant adults who had fasted laboratory samples drawn for the 2007-2009 cycle of the Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) or the 2005-2008 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
Results: The 1692 CHMS subjects and 3541 NHANES participants were demographically similar (aged a mean of 45 years), although NHANES participants exhibited higher obesity rates (33.8% vs. 22.2%, P < 0.001). Over 80% of CHMS and NHANES subjects with hypertension had at least 1 other cardiovascular risk factor. As the number of atherosclerotic risk factors increased, hypertension prevalence increased, but blood pressure control rates improved (from 48% among hypertensives with no other risk factors in CHMS to 77% among those with 3 or more risk factors, and from 35% to 53% in NHANES). However, the converse was not true: The distribution of Framingham risk scores for those subjects with "controlled hypertension" was nearly identical to the distribution among those adults with uncontrolled hypertension in both CHMS and NHANES and substantially higher than scores in normotensive subjects.
Conclusions: Although control of blood pressure was better in patients with multiple atherosclerotic risk factors, hypertensives with controlled blood pressures exhibited risk-factor profiles similar to those of participants with uncontrolled blood pressures. This suggests the need, in educational messaging and therapy decision making, for an increased focus on total atherosclerotic risk rather than just blood pressure control.
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