Letters To The Editor

In reply: What is adequate hypertension control?

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In Reply: First, I am gratified by the tremendous interest in the care of the hypertensive patient that my article has generated. Dr. Norenberg and Dr. Kelleher are insightful clinicians, as evidenced by the issues that their letters raise. Secondly, as I am now 54 years old, SHEP’s definition of “elderly” as 60 years old and older appears less accurate to me! However, I think we might all agree that to date there has not been a trial with people 65 years old and younger that has not shown benefit to treatment of the blood pressure to less than 140/90 mm Hg.

I believe that Dr. Kelleher’s quest for more “evidence-based” data refers to treatment data in patients above that age. Hopefully, this quest will be answered by the results of the Hypertension in the Very Elderly Trial (HYVET). 1 In this trial, 3,845 patients older than 80 years were treated to less than 140/90 mm Hg. On July 12, 2007, the trial was stopped by the data safety and monitoring board, with the expectation of published results at the European Society of Hypertension and International Society of Hypertension joint meeting in Berlin in 2008.

Third, I must remind the reader that in practicing evidence-based medicine, we clinicians always must interpret the results of double-blind placebo-controlled trials, which tell us the mean effect of a treatment, but apply this information to the individual patient seated in front of us. A recent study 2 of individual blood pressure response to four forms of monotherapy showed that, in some patients, the blood pressure rose with hydrochlorothiazide instead of falling!

Fourth, Dr. Kelleher implies, correctly, that not all patients can reach the target of less than 140/90. In this regard I think the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial (ALLHAT) 3 is very instructive. ALLHAT is the first trial ever to show improvement in the percent of people reaching goal blood pressure, rising from 52% to 63% during the 5-year study. ALLHAT shows us how good we can be and that we should not accept the failure to reach goal blood pressure in at least two-thirds of our patients.

The final and most important point is that the time for arguing the guideline recommendations 4–6 based on our own opinion is past. Third-party payers and patients are demanding we meet those guidelines until new information suggests that they need to be altered. HYVET may force such an alteration, but until then Dr. Norenberg, Dr. Kelleher, and I must attempt to reach the target of less than 140/90 in the majority of our patients.

The final and most important point is that the time for arguing the guideline recommendations 4–6 based on our own opinion is past. Third-party payers and patients are demanding we meet those guidelines until new information suggests that they need to be altered. HYVET may force such an alteration, but until then Dr. Norenberg, Dr. Kelleher, and I must attempt to reach the target of less than 140/90 in the majority of our patients.

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