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The prevalence and treatment of hypertension in Veterans Health Administration, assessing the impact of the updated clinical guidelines.

Yamada M, Wachsmuth J, Sambharia M, Griffin BR, Swee ML, Reisinger HS, Lund BC, Girotra SR, Sarrazin MV, Jalal DI. The prevalence and treatment of hypertension in Veterans Health Administration, assessing the impact of the updated clinical guidelines. Journal of Hypertension. 2023 Jun 1; 41(6):995-1002.

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OBJECTIVE: Hypertension is the most common risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Several guidelines have lowered diagnostic blood pressure (BP) thresholds and treatment targets for hypertension. We evaluated the impact of the more stringent guidelines among Veterans, a population at high risk of CVD. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective analysis of Veterans with at least two office BP measurements between January 2016 and December 2017. Prevalent hypertension was defined as diagnostic codes related to hypertension, prescribed antihypertensive drugs, or office BP values according to the BP cutoffs at least 140/90 mmHg (Joint National Committee 7 [JNC 7]), at least 130/80 mmHg [American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association (ACC/AHA)], or the 2020 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) guideline (BP 130/90 mmHg). Uncontrolled BP was defined per the VHA guideline as mean SBP 130 mmHg or DBP 90 mmHg. RESULTS: The prevalence of hypertension increased from 71% for BP at least 140/90 to 81% for BP at least 130/90 mmHg and further to 87% for BP at least 130/80 mmHg. Among Veterans with known hypertension ( n = 2 768 826), a majority [ n = 1 818 951 (66%)] were considered to have uncontrolled BP per the VHA guideline. Lowering the treatment targets for SBP and DBP significantly increased the number of Veterans who would require initiation of or intensification of pharmacotherapy. The majority of Veterans with uncontrolled BP and at least one CVD risk factor remained uncontrolled after 5 years of follow-up. CONCLUSION: Lowering the BP diagnostic and treatment cutoffs increases the burden on healthcare systems significantly. Targeted interventions are needed to achieve the BP treatment goals.

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