Trends for prevalence and incidence of resistant hypertension: population based cohort study in the UK 1995-2015

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Abstract

Objective

To estimate the incidence and prevalence of resistant hypertension among a UK population treated for hypertension from 1995 to 2015.

Design

Cohort study.

Setting

Electronic health records from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink in primary care.

Participants

1 317 290 users of antihypertensive drugs with a diagnosis of hypertension.

Main outcome measures

Resistant hypertension was defined as concurrent use of three antihypertensive drugs inclusive of a diuretic, uncontrolled hypertension (≥140/90 mm Hg), and adherence to the prescribed drug regimen, or concurrent use of four antihypertensive drugs inclusive of a diuretic and adherence to the prescribed drug regimen. To determine incidence, the numerator was new cases of resistant hypertension and the denominator was person years of those with treated hypertension and at risk of developing resistant hypertension. To determine prevalence, the numerator was total number of cases with resistant hypertension and the denominator was those with treated hypertension. Prevalence and incidence were age standardised to the 2015 hypertensive population.

Results

The age standardised incidence of resistant hypertension increased from 0.93 cases per 100 person years (95% confidence interval 0.87 to 1.00) in 1996 to a peak level of 2.07 cases per 100 person years (2.03 to 2.12) in 2004. Incidence then decreased to 0.42 cases per 100 person years (0.40 to 0.44) in 2015. Age standardised prevalence increased from 1.75% (95% confidence interval 1.66% to 1.83%) in 1995 to a peak of 7.76% (7.70% to 7.83%) in 2007. Prevalence then plateaued and subsequently declined to 6.46% (6.38% to 6.54%) in 2015. Compared with patients aged 65-69 years, those aged 80 or more years were more likely to have prevalent resistant hypertension throughout the study period.

Conclusions

Prevalent resistant hypertension has plateaued and decreased in recent years, consistent with a decrease in incidence from 2004 onwards. Despite this, resistant hypertension is common in the UK hypertensive population. Given the importance of hypertension as a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, reducing uncontrolled hypertension should remain a population health focus.

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