Research Article

General practitioners' management of hypertension in elderly patients.

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 26 September 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:750
  1. M. D. Fotherby,
  2. G. D. Harper,
  3. J. F. Potter
  1. University Department of Medicine for the Elderly, Leicester General Hospital.


    OBJECTIVE--To assess general practitioners' attitudes to the diagnosis and management of hypertension in elderly patients. DESIGN--Postal questionnaire to all general practitioners in Leicestershire. RESULTS--360 of 451 general practitioners (80%) responded. 81% (292) reported rechecking an initially high blood pressure on two or three occasions before starting treatment, 56% (202) measured sitting blood pressure only, and just 28% (100) took sitting and standing levels. 36% (128) had no upper age limit for starting anti-hypertensive treatment; of the 58% (206) who did, the median was 80 (range 70-99) years. Blood pressure levels reported for starting treatment in patients aged 70-79 years were 180 (150-240)/106 (90-120) mm Hg. 34% of general practitioners (121) would not treat isolated systolic hypertension. The most popular first line treatment for an elderly hypertensive patient was a thiazide diuretic; only 17% of general practitioners (61) initially tried non-pharmacological methods. 34% (122) would continue anti-hypertensive treatment unchanged in the period immediately after stroke. CONCLUSIONS--The variation among general practitioners in the criteria for the measurement, diagnosis, and treatment of hypertension in elderly patients emphasises the need for clear management guidelines in this age group.