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Hypertension. 2000 Nov;36(5):780-9.

Hypertension and its treatment in postmenopausal women: baseline data from the Women's Health Initiative.

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  • 1Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, USA.


Little is known about the patterns of treatment and adequacy of blood pressure control in older women. The Women's Health Initiative, a 40-center national study of risk factors and prevention of heart disease, breast and colorectal cancer, and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, provides a unique opportunity to examine these issues in the largest, multiethnic, best-characterized such cohort. Baseline data from the initial 98 705 women, aged 50 to 79 years, enrolled were analyzed to relate prevalence, treatment, and control of hypertension to demographic, clinical, and risk-factor covariates, and logistic regression analyses were performed to estimate odds ratios after adjusting for multiple potential confounders. Overall, 37.8% of the women had hypertension, which is defined as systolic blood pressure >/=140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure >/=90 mm Hg or being on medication for high blood pressure; 64.3% were treated with drugs, and blood pressure was controlled in only 36.1% of the hypertensive women, with lower rates of control in the oldest group. After adjustment for multiple covariates, current hormone users had higher prevalence than did nonusers (odds ratio 1.25). Hypertensive women had more comorbid conditions than did nonhypertensive women, and women with comorbidities were more likely to be treated pharmacologically. Diuretics were used by 44.3% of hypertensives either as monotherapy or in combination with other drug classes. As monotherapy, calcium channel blockers were used in 16%, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in 14%, beta-blockers in 9%, and diuretics in 14% of the hypertensive women. Diuretics as monotherapy were associated with better blood pressure control than any of the other drug classes as monotherapy. In conclusion, hypertension in older women is not being treated aggressively enough because a large proportion, especially those most at risk for stroke and heart disease by virtue of age, does not have sufficient blood pressure control.

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