Patterns of hypertension management in Italy: Results of a pharmacoepidemiological survey on antihypertensive therapy

Ettore Ambrosioni, Gastone Leonetti, Achille C. Pessina, Alessandro Rappelli, Bruno Trimarco, Alberto Zanchetti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To collect statistically significant information on patterns of antihypertensive therapy in medical practice, with particular attention to the drugs used in the pharmacological management of hypertensive patients and the reasons for the limited achievement of therapeutic goals during treatment. Design. A survey conducted among general practitioners, specialists, and hypertensive patients. Methods A total of 28 000 physicians were contacted by letter and 3394 declared their willingness to participate and received a questionnaire. Subsequently, 1255 questionnaires suitable for analysis (corresponding to 37.0% of adhering physicians) were received. In addition, 4612 questionnaires completed by patients were pooled and evaluated. The prevalence of hypertension was calculated from a base of 254192 patients, seen by general practitioners. Results. The prevalence of hypertension, defined as systolic blood pressure ≥160 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure ≥95 mmHg, or current treatment, was 19.7%. The average number of hypertensive patients in each general practitioner's file, covering the previous 12 months, was approximately 230. Physicians reported a 66% rate of discontinuation of treatment or switching to another drug. Physicians and patients both considered inadequate blood pressure control and side effects to be the two main reasons for switching antihypertensive therapy, but in OpPosite order. Furthermore, physicians indicated a prevalence of drug side effects between 10 and 20%, according to class of drug used, whereas 69% of patients reported to have experienced side effects. In the doctors' opinions, there were many reasons for poor patient adherence: complexity of the drug regimen, appearance of side effects, forgetfulness, reduced patient understanding of the need for long-term continuation of treatment, and refusal to accept a chronic pathological condition. Conclusions. The survey showed awareness of the disease among physicians and provides a representation of the experiences of both general practitioners and specialists, in addition to that of their patients. During antihypertensive therapy, a disconcerting degree of discontinuation and switching of drugs occurred. Insufficient blood pressure control and side effects accounted for most of the observed treatment changes. This survey revealed the existence of a gap between the physicians' perception of tolerability and the real experience of patients, a clear need for greater tolerability of treatments, and a need for an enhancement of patient-physician communication. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1699
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Hypertension
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Antihypertensive therapy
  • Drug side effects
  • Hypertension management
  • Patient survey
  • Physician survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology


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