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Hypertension. 2006 Mar;47(3):345-51. Epub 2006 Jan 23.

Therapeutic inertia is an impediment to achieving the Healthy People 2010 blood pressure control goals.

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Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Therapeutic inertia (TI), defined as the providers' failure to increase therapy when treatment goals are unmet, contributes to the high prevalence of uncontrolled hypertension (> or =140/90 mm Hg), but the quantitative impact is unknown. To address this gap, a retrospective cohort study was conducted on 7253 hypertensives that had > or =4 visits and > or =1 elevated blood pressure (BP) in 2003. A 1-year TI score was calculated for each patient as the difference between expected and observed medication change rates with higher scores reflecting greater TI. Antihypertensive therapy was increased on 13.1% of visits with uncontrolled BP. Systolic BP decreased in patients in the lowest quintile of the TI score but increased in those in the highest quintile (-6.8+/-0.5 versus +1.8+/-0.6 mm Hg; P<0.001). Individuals in the lowest TI quintile were &33 times more likely to have their BP controlled at the last visit than those in highest quintile (odds ratio, 32.7; 95% CI, 25.1 to 42.6; P<0.0001). By multivariable analysis, TI accounted for &19% of the variance in BP control. If TI scores were decreased &50%, that is, increasing medication dosages on &30% of visits, BP control would increase from the observed 45.1% to a projected 65.9% in 1 year. This study confirms the high rate of TI in uncontrolled hypertensive subjects. TI has a major impact on BP control in hypertensive subjects receiving regular care. Reducing TI is critical in attaining the Healthy People 2010 goal of controlling hypertension in 50% of all patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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