Background: After the 2003 publication of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) guidelines, there was a 5-10% increase in patients initiating antihypertensive medication with a thiazide-type diuretic, but most patients still did not initiate treatment with this class. There are few contemporary published data on antihypertensive medication classes filled by patients initiating treatment.
Methods and findings: We used the 5% random Medicare sample to study the initiation of antihypertensive medication between 2007 and 2010. Initiation was defined by the first antihypertensive medication fill preceded by 365 days with no antihypertensive medication fills. We restricted our analysis to beneficiaries ≥ 65 years who had two or more outpatient visits with a hypertension diagnosis and full Medicare fee-for-service coverage for the 365 days prior to initiation of antihypertensive medication. Between 2007 and 2010, 32,142 beneficiaries in the 5% Medicare sample initiated antihypertensive medication. Initiation with a thiazide-type diuretic decreased from 19.2% in 2007 to 17.9% in 2010. No other changes in medication classes initiated occurred over this period. Among those initiating antihypertensive medication in 2010, 31.3% filled angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is), 26.9% filled beta blockers, 17.2% filled calcium channel blockers, and 14.4% filled angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs). Initiation with >1 antihypertensive medication class decreased from 25.6% in 2007 to 24.1% in 2010. Patients initiated >1 antihypertensive medication class most commonly with a thiazide-type diuretic and either an ACE-I or ARB.
Conclusion: These results suggest that JNC 7 had a limited long-term impact on the choice of antihypertensive medication class and provide baseline data prior to the publication of the 2014 Evidence-Based Guideline for the Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults from the Panel Members Appointed to the Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8).