Evaluating Quality of Life in Hypertensive Patients

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The treatment of arterial hypertension is symptomatic in 90-95% of patients; and therefore it must be administered throughout life. At the beginning of pharmacologic treatment when only patients with severe or malignant hypertension are treated, the goal is almost exclusively limited to blood pressure reduction. Thereafter, when the treatment is extended to patients with mild and moderate hypertension, other aims in addition to blood pressure reduction, are evaluated and among these is the impact of pharmacologic blood pressure lowering on the quality of life. The quality of life is recognized as a multifactorial variable and can be subdivided into six domains. The methodology used to evaluate the quality of life should use valid, repeatable, and sensitive tools. A meta-analysis of well selected and comparable trials has shown that antihypertensive treatment, as a whole, has a small but positive impact on many domains of the quality of life. Furthermore, it appears that converting-enzyme inhibitors, β-blockers, calcium antagonists, and diuretics cause a statistically significant improvement of quality of life, while centrally acting α1-agonists and direct vasodilators show only a positive trend. Although the comparison among two or more drugs with regard to quality of life is more difficult, it appears from a personal review that converting-enzyme inhibitors and calcium antagonists cause a greater improvement. These two classes of antihy-pertensive agents have been shown to improve the quality of life in elderly hypertensive patients, together with significant blood pressure reduction. Finally, the incidence of drop-outs and side effects cannot be considered a valid means of evaluation of the quality of life.

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