Women receive more hypertension drugs

October 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

Patients diagnosed with hypertension in 1997 were 25% less likely to be treated initially with pharmaceuticals than those diagnosed in 1995, according to a new study from IMS Health, Plymouth Meeting, PA. But, among those who were treated promptly with medicines, the number of women significantly outnumbered men.

Patients diagnosed with hypertension in 1997 were 25% less likely to be treated initially with pharmaceuticals than those diagnosed in 1995, according to a new study from IMS Health, Plymouth Meeting, PA. But, among those who were treated promptly with medicines, the number of women significantly outnumbered men.

More widespread physician acceptance and compliance with managed care treatment guidelines for hypertension were likely reasons behind the 25% decrease in initial pharmaceutical treatment of hypertension, according to IMS Health. Such guidelines stress making lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise before adopting pharmaceutical therapy.

But why the difference in treatment between the sexes? One reason may be that women often have a harder time losing weight than their male counterparts, according to David Nash, M.D., director of health policy and clinical outcomes at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia.

The study examined the medical record data of 9,257 anonymous patients newly diagnosed with hypertension by primary care physicians between 1995 and 1997. Patients were observed for 12 months from the date of their diagnosis, and statistics were adjusted for differences in severity, morbidity and age profiles for both men and women.

The study found that 57% of patients were treated within the first month of diagnosis, and the majority (88%) were treated on the date of diagnosis.

"It is not surprising that gender was a factor in physicians' decisions to treat hypertensive patients pharmaceutically," said Ana-Maria Zaug, vice president of IMS Health's disease, treatment and outcomes information services. "However, since males are more commonly associated with aggressive treatment, we would have expected males to have higher rates of therapy initiation. The 'real-world' data showed us that, in fact, the reverse is true in the primary care arena." PR

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