To achieve blood pressure (BP) control adequate dosing of first-line antihypertensive medications is recommended in addition to life-style changes. Given observations that dosing of antihypertensive agents is frequently insufficient, we compared the changes of BP control rates and antihypertensive drug regimens in a prospective German population using a new strategy to analyze medication dosing.
This analysis is based on data of the baseline (2000–2003) and the first follow-up examination (2005–2008) of the population-based Heinz Nixdorf Recall study. Participants with hypertension at baseline (BP ≥140/90 mmHg or at least one antihypertensive agent) who participated in both examinations were included.
Of the 4157 participants, 2289 (55.1%) had hypertension at baseline. The prevalence of participants on antihypertensive agents was 60.3% at baseline and increased to 75.1% at follow-up. The mean number of antihypertensive agents was 2 [±1 SD (standard deviation)] initially and at follow-up. The prevalence of medication-controlled BP did not improve over time (baseline: 54.5%, follow-up: 56.5%). When stratifying by medication-controlled BP, the medication dosing rate slightly increased over time without differences between groups [controlled versus uncontrolled BP: 40.9 versus 46.2% (baseline); 50.1 versus 51.9% (follow-up)].
Although the prevalence of antihypertensive medication use increased in the study period, the BP control rate did not. In contrast to clinical reasoning, participants with uncontrolled BP did neither receive more agents nor higher dosing despite outcome-relevant hypertension. Our approach to analyze medication dosing suggests a potential to improve cardiovascular outcomes by increasing dosages of antihypertensive agents.