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Antihypertensive combination therapy in primary care offices: results of a cross-sectional survey in Switzerland

Authors Roas S, Bernhart F, Schwarz M, Kaiser WE, Noll G

Received 10 September 2014

Accepted for publication 17 November 2014

Published 9 December 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 549—556


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Susanne Roas,1 Felix Bernhart,2 Michael Schwarz,3 Walter Kaiser,4 Georg Noll5

1Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital, Zurich, 2Private Practice, Biberist, 3Ambulatorium Wiesendamm, Basel, 4Healthworld (Schweiz) AG, Steinhausen, 5HerzKlinik Hirslanden, Zurich, Switzerland

Background: Most hypertensive patients need more than one substance to reach their target blood pressure (BP). Several clinical studies indicate the high efficacy of antihypertensive combinations, and recent guidelines recommend them in some situations even as initial therapies. In general practice they seem widespread, but only limited data are available on their effectiveness under the conditions of everyday life. The objectives of this survey among Swiss primary care physicians treating hypertensive patients were: to know the frequency of application of different treatment modalities (monotherapies, free individual combinations, single-pill combinations); to see whether there are relationships between prescribed treatment modalities and patient characteristics, especially age, treatment duration, and comorbidities; and to determine the response rate (percentage of patients reaching target BP) of different treatment modalities under the conditions of daily practice.
Methods: This cross-sectional, observational survey among 228 randomly chosen Swiss primary care physicians analyzed data for 3,888 consecutive hypertensive patients collected at one single consultation.
Results: In this survey, 31.9% of patients received monotherapy, 41.2% two substances, 20.9% three substances, and 4.7% more than three substances. By combination mode, 34.9% took free individual combinations and 30.0% took fixed-dose single-pill combinations. Combinations were more frequently given to older patients with a long history of hypertension and/or comorbidities. In total, 67.8% of patients achieved their BP target according to their physician's judgment. When compared, single-pill combinations were associated with a higher percentage of patients achieving target BP than free individual combinations and monotherapies for the total sample and for patients with comorbidity.
Conclusion: Antihypertensive combination therapy was widely used in Swiss primary care practices. The number of prescribed substances depended on age, treatment duration, and type and number of comorbidities. Although the response rate was generally modest under the conditions of daily practice, it was higher for single-pill combinations than for monotherapies and free individual combinations. Further studies are needed to confirm these observations.

Keywords: hypertension, combination therapy, comorbidity, single-pill combination, fixed-dose combination

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