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Concern at low numbers treated for hypertension

The Government is set to recommend use of angiotensin-2-antagonists for the prevention of stroke in hypertensive patients, Pulse can reveal.

But GP experts warned any new guidelines would have to focus on treating the highest risk patients first because the resources were not there to deliver more and more targets.

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence has set up a working group to review the drugs in response to trials that showed their superiority over traditional ?-blockers.

The European Society of Hypertension launched guidelines on angiotensin-2-antagonists for treating hypertension at the Milan meeting.

Professor Giuseppe Mancia, guidelines author and professor of medicine at the University of Milan, expressed 'serious concern' at the low number of patients being treated for hypertension, particularly in the UK.

Professor Mancia, who presented results of a European-wide study into hypertension at the meeting, said only 6 per cent of patients in England and 18 per cent of patients in Scotland with hypertension were treated and controlled.

GPs called for more advice on angiotensin-2-antagonists following the LIFE (Losartan Intervention For Endpoint reduction in hypertension) study which showed losartan reduced the risk of stroke by 25 per cent compared with ?-blocker atenolol.

Professor Bryan Williams, clinical adviser to the NICE review of angiotensin-2-antagonists and chair of the British Hypertension Society, said guidelines would be announced 'soon'.

Professor Williams, professor of medicine at the University of Leicester, said the newer drugs were also more effective in reducing new onset diabetes.

Professor Graham Watt, professor of general practice at the University of Glasgow and a member of the Scottish guidelines group on hypertension, said GPs should focus on using resources to treat patients at highest risk.

He said: 'We shouldn't introduce more targets until we can deliver good BP control for the highest risk patients.'

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