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PLoS One. 2011 Mar 3;6(3):e17508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017508.

The global risk approach should be better applied in French hypertensive patients: a comparison between simulation and observation studies.

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  • 1Departamento de Pre-clínicas, Escuela de Medicina, Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile.



The prediction of the public health impact of a preventive strategy provides valuable support for decision-making. International guidelines for hypertension management have introduced the level of absolute cardiovascular risk in the definition of the treatment target population. The public health impact of implementing such a recommendation has not been measured.


We assessed the efficiency of three treatment scenarios according to historical and current versions of practice guidelines on a Realistic Virtual Population representative of the French population aged from 35 to 64 years: 1) BP≥160/95 mm Hg; 2) BP≥140/90 mm Hg and 3) BP≥140/90 mm Hg plus increased CVD risk. We compared the eligibility following the ESC guidelines with the recently observed proportion of treated amongst hypertensive individuals reported by the Etude Nationale Nutrition Santé survey. Lowering the threshold to define hypertension multiplied by 2.5 the number of eligible individuals. Applying the cardiovascular risk rule reduced this number significantly: less than 1/4 of hypertensive women under 55 years and less than 1/3 of hypertensive men below 45 years of age. This was the most efficient strategy. Compared to the simulated guidelines application, men of all ages were undertreated (between 32 and 60%), as were women over 55 years (70%). By contrast, younger women were over-treated (over 200%).


The global CVD risk approach to decide for treatment is more efficient than the simple blood pressure level. However, lack of screening rather than guideline application seems to explain the low prescription rates among hypertensive individuals in France. Multidimensional analyses required to obtain these results are possible only through databases at the individual level: realistic virtual populations should become the gold standard for assessing the impact of public health policies at the national level.

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