Monitoring compliance in resistant hypertension: an important step in patient management

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Poor compliance with antihypertensive drug regimens is one recognized cause of inadequate blood pressure control. Compliance is difficult to measure, so poor adherence to treatment remains largely undiagnosed in clinical practice. When the therapeutic response to a drug is not the one expected, it is a major challenge for many physicians to decide whether the patient is a non-responder or a non-complier. Poor compliance is therefore often incorrectly interpreted as a lack of response to treatment. Not detecting non-compliance can lead to the wrong measures being taken. Electronic monitoring of compliance provides important longitudinal information about drug-intake behaviour that cannot be obtained in the clinic. Such monitoring can improve both compliance and blood pressure control, and help physicians to make more rational therapeutic decisions. A reliable assessment of compliance could have a great impact on medical costs by preventing unnecessary investigations or dose adaptations in patients who are not taking their drugs adequately, or potentially reducing the number of hospitalizations. Side-effects and lack of effectiveness are two frequent causes of poor compliance. The right choice of antihypertensive drug can therefore contribute to compliance. In this respect, it is important to find a drug regimen that is effective, long-acting and well tolerated. Long-acting antihypertensive drugs that provide good blood pressure control beyond the 24-h dosing period should perhaps be considered as drugs of choice in non-compliant patients with hypertension because they help to prevent the consequences of occasional drug omissions.

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