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Blood Press. 2010 Feb;19(1):3-10. doi: 10.3109/08037050903350762.

Clinical inertia in diagnosis and treatment of hypertension in primary care: quantification and associated factors.

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  • 1Departamento de Medicina Clinica, Miguel Hernández University, Elche, Alicante, Spain. atenció



The objective of the present study was to quantify both diagnostic and therapeutic inertia in hypertension and to identify patient-associated variables.


Cross-sectional, multicenter study of 35 424 subjects carried out in 428 health centers and/or primary care clinics in the Valencian Community, Spain, in a preventive activity conducted during 2003 and 2004. Diagnostic inertia was identified when a patient without known hypertension had high blood pressure (BP) but was labeled "normal" by the medical staff, and therapeutic inertia when treatment was not modified for a hypertensive patient on the presence of high BP values. Bivariate and multivariate statistical analyses were performed to identify patient's characteristics associated with inertia.


Diagnostic inertia was present in 32.5% (95% CI 31.4-33.6) and therapeutic inertia in 37.0% (95% CI 35.6-38.5) of the cases. Both were more frequent in cases of isolated systolic or diastolic high BP. In the multivariate models, the factors associated with diagnostic inertia were type-2 diabetes (p=0.041), non-smoking (p=0.004), previous coronary heart disease (p=0.001), BP values (p<0.001) and body mass index (p=0.031), whereas for therapeutic inertia they were type-2 diabetes (p=0.003), previous coronary heart disease (p=0.016) or stroke (p<0.001) and BP values (p<0.001).


Clinical inertia, either diagnostic or therapeutic, was present in one of every three cases of high BP. The most frequent factors associated with clinical inertia were the presence of associated conditions, which requires lower BP goals and the BP values.

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