Background Measurement of serum concentrations of drugs is a novelty found useful in detecting poor drug adherence in patients taking ≥2 antihypertensive agents. Regarding patients with treatment-resistant hypertension, we previously based our assessment on directly observed therapy. The present study aimed to investigate whether serum drug measurements in patients with resistant hypertension offer additional information regarding drug adherence, beyond that of initial assessment with directly observed therapy. Methods and Results Nineteen patients assumed to have true treatment-resistant hypertension and adherence to antihypertensive drugs based on directly observed therapy were investigated repeatedly through 7 years. Serum concentrations of antihypertensive drugs were measured by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry from blood samples taken at baseline, 6-month, 3-year, and 7-year visits. Cytochrome P450 polymorphisms, self-reported adherence and beliefs about medicine were performed as supplement investigations. Seven patients (37%) were redefined as nonadherent based on their serum concentrations during follow-up. All patients reported high adherence to medications. Nonadherent patients expressed lower necessity and higher concerns regarding intake of antihypertensive medication (P=0.003). Cytochrome P450 polymorphisms affecting metabolism of antihypertensive drugs were found in 16 patients (84%), 21% were poor metabolizers, and none were ultra-rapid metabolizers. Six of 7 patients redefined as nonadherent had cytochrome P450 polymorphisms, however, not explaining the low serum drug concentrations measured in these patients. Conclusions Our data suggest that repeated measurements of serum concentrations of antihypertensive drugs revealed nonadherence in one-third of patients previously evaluated as adherent and treatment resistant by directly observed therapy, thereby improving the accuracy of adherence evaluation. Registration URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; unique identifier: NCT01673516.
Keywords: antihypertensive drugs; blood pressure; directly observed therapy; nonadherence; resistant hypertension; serum drug concentrations.