Treatment of hypertension and adherence to treatment guidelines in clinical practice: An Italian study

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Despite the results from clinical trials in patients with hypertension and the development of a long list of guidelines for the management of hypertension, many physicians and other healthcare professionals still manage hypertension using approaches that clearly diverge at least partially from the recommendations of these guidelines. Whatever the underlying reasons for physicians' failure to adhere to these guidelines, it is one of the main causes of the high percentage of treated patients with uncontrolled hypertension. This article is a report of the out-comes of a project designed to identify specific discrepancies between hypertension guidelines and clinical practice in Italy then guide the physicians to reach a consensus on hypertension management through discussions with their peers. A total of 1120 internists from all 20 regions in Italy were recruited to participate in workshops conducted between June 2002 and July 2004. They were divided into 57 groups to discuss at least 7 key topics, including the blood pressure level at which to start drug therapy, target-organ damage, isolated systolic hypertension, pulse pressure, clinical trials, generic drugs, and fixed combination drug therapy. The project findings confirmed that the vast majority of internists agree with the guidelines but do not adhere to them completely in clinical practice. Through open discussions that allowed them to identify common viewpoints, the participants may have developed a better awareness of and insight into the guidelines for hypertension management. Hopefully this strategy for group participation will lead to improvements in the management of hypertension throughout Italy.

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