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GPs go forth

UK behind in hypertension

The UK has lagged behind the US and much of western Europe in control of hypertension, a new study reveals.

In 2004, the year the quality and outcomes framework was introduced, 63 per cent of American hypertension patients were controlled compared with just 36 per cent in the UK. France, with 46 per cent control and Germany and Spain with 40 per cent also led the UK.

Dr Caleb Alexander, one of the study researchers and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, said: 'All too often the physician and patient fails to achieve hypertension control or escalate therapy when high blood pressure is identified.

'I think it's easy for people to rationalise high blood pressure rather than increasing or adding a treatment.'

Dr Alexander said combination drug therapy, which was used more frequently in the US than in western Europe, was often overlooked.

In the US, 64 per cent of

patients received combination therapy, compared with 59 per cent in the UK.

Dr Terry McCormack, chair of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society and a GP in Whitby, North Yorkshire, said the new NICE guidelines and the QOF would be addressing the differences between countries.

'In the States they keep bringing the thresholds down, and I don't think it's necessary,' he added.

The research, published in the latest issue of the Archives

of Internal Medicine, analysed

data from 21,053 hypertensive patients in the CardioMonitor 2004 survey.

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