We compared blood pressure (BP) control in a recent cohort of hypertensive military veterans with BP control in a previous cohort and examined whether hypertension treatment practices, as defined by the frequency of antihypertensive medication dosage increases, have changed over time.
We abstracted 1999 outpatient chart data including visit type, BP measurements, comorbidities, and medication use for 981 randomly selected hypertensive veterans. We examined overall BP control and control in subgroups with diabetes mellitus and renal disease, and compared results with those of a sample of 800 veterans studied from 1990 to1995. We also compared the frequency of antihypertensive medication dosage increases in the 2 samples.
Mean BPs were significantly lower in 1999. The mean systolic drop was 3.1 mm Hg and reached 13.7 mm Hg for the subgroups with diabetes and renal disease. Even larger decreases were seen in mean diastolic BPs. In 1999, 57% of patients had BP measurements of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, vs 69% of patients in the 1990-1995 study (P<.001). In 1999, the BP control of patients with diabetes was similar to that of patients without diabetes, as 60% of the former had BP measurements of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Patients with renal disease had better control than those without, however, as only 43% had BP measurements of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. When comparing samples, patients with diabetes, renal disease, or both had better BP control in 1999 than their counterparts in the 1990-1995 study (P<.003 in all cases). In 1999, more medical visits were associated with medication dosage increases than in the 1990-1995 study.
Although overall BP control has improved, BP measurements still exceeded recommended levels in most patients. For patients with diabetes and renal disease BP was much better controlled in the more recent sample. However, BP control of patients with diabetes was similar to that of patients without diabetes, and not in agreement with the guideline-recommended tighter control. Thus, room for improvement remains, especially in this subgroup.