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J Hypertens. 2004 Sep;22(9):1707-16.

Trends in blood pressure control and antihypertensive treatment in clinical practice: the Brisighella Heart Study.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.



To assess trends in blood pressure (BP) awareness, control, treatment and use of different antihypertensive medications in a cohort of hypertensive patients.


This study summarizes the results of a 12-year observation (1984-1996) of a cohort of 940 hypertensive patients from the population of 2329 participants to the Brisighella Heart Study (BHS). Primary outcome measures were the extent of BP control (systolic/diastolic BP < 140/90 mmHg) and prevalence of the use of various antihypertensive medications.


From 1984 to 1996 the proportion of patients aware of elevated BP and treated for hypertension rose from 73 to 88% and from 43.8 to 50.3% in men, and from 77 to 87% and from 50 to 56.6% in women (P < 0.001 for all). The rate of BP control increased from 7.5 to 17.4% in men (P < 0.001) and from 7.3 to 18.5% in women (P < 0.001). This occurred with increased use of combination therapy (+0.2 drugs/person) and with a decline in the use of diuretics (-38.2% men and -28% women; P < 0.001) and an increase in use of calcium-channel blockers (CCBs) (24.2% in men and 12.2% in women; P < 0.001) and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (30.7% in men and 30.8% in women; P < 0.001) as first-line drugs. The improved BP control was associated with a lower rate of fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular (CV) events.


The results of this observational study confirm that the rate of BP control can be improved in daily clinical practice by increasing the use of drug combinations, as well as by the first-line prescription of ACE inhibitors and CCBs [and probably angiotensin II receptor inhibitors (ARBs)].

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