Application of hypertension guidelines in clinical practice: implementation of the 2007 ESH/ESC European practice Guidelines in Spain

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Clinical practice guidelines on the management of hypertension such as the 2007 European Society of Hypertension (ESH)/European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Guidelines were developed with the objective of allowing a greater number of patients with high blood pressure to be detected and effectively treated. The acceptance of hypertension guidelines and their implementation in clinical practice by ‘front-line’ physicians continues to be less than optimal for a variety of reasons, however, including the gap between academic guideline writers and those whose task it is to implement the guidelines, the physicians’ own attitudes and knowledge, the characteristics of the guideline itself, patient-related factors, and external barriers such as a lack of adequate resources. In Spain, a survey of the opinions of Spanish physicians on the 2007 ESH/ESC hypertension Guidelines found that there was agreement that the guidelines allow a better stratification of cardiovascular risk, better control of risk factors related to hypertension, better implementation of an individualized treatment programme, and facilitate choice of the best therapeutic approach for each patient, but there was no consensus that adherence to the guidelines achieves better control of hypertension or that it is more likely to prevent future cardiovascular events. In future, there needs to be a continuous process involving education and audit that takes into account the full spectrum of barriers to acceptance and implementation of hypertension guidelines to ensure that their full potential in reducing the strain on healthcare delivery systems imposed by undiagnosed, untreated and uncontrolled hypertension can be realized.

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