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Am J Manag Care. 2004 Jul;10(7 Pt 2):481-6.

Hypertension management: the care gap between clinical guidelines and clinical practice.

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Meyers Primary Care Institute, Fallon Foundation, and University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass 01605, USA.



To evaluate how well hypertension is managed in HMO patients and to assess opportunities for improvement.


Retrospective cohort study.


The study population included HMO members (age 45-84 years) who had at least 1 ambulatory encounter with an ICD-9-CM diagnosis code of essential hypertension during the first 6 months of 1999. Medical records were reviewed to obtain information on blood pressure measurements, sex, age, coexisting medical conditions, smoking status, and changes made to the antihypertensive drug regimen.


We identified 681 members with 3347 encounters related to hypertension management during 1999. Overall, 74 (11%) patients were at target blood pressure for all visits and 260 (38%) were at target blood pressure for at least 50% of the visits; 222 (33%) patients were not at target blood pressure for any visit. A history of coronary artery disease or cerebrovascular disease was associated with better blood pressure control (defined as being at goal levels during at least 50% of visits), while being older (age > or = 75) or having diabetes mellitus was associated with poorer control. Medication regimen intensifications occurred in 10% of visits with systolic blood pressure levels of 140-149 mm Hg, compared with 45% of visits with levels of > or = 180 mm Hg. Medication regimen intensifications occurred in 21% of visits with diastolic blood pressure levels of 90-99 mm Hg and 43% of visits with levels of > or = 100 mm Hg.


Efforts are required to reduce "therapeutic inertia," particularly in patients with modestly elevated systolic blood pressure levels.

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