Background: It is common practice for providers to intensify antihypertensive regimen during admission for noncardiac conditions even if a patient has a history of well-controlled blood pressure as an outpatient. Many providers have assumed that these changes will benefit patients; however, this outcome had never been studied.
Study design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting: Veterans Affairs hospitals.
Synopsis: The authors analyzed a well-matched retrospective cohort of 4,056 adults aged 65 years or older with hypertension who were admitted for noncardiac conditions including pneumonia, urinary tract infection, and venous thromboembolism. Half of the cohort was discharged with intensification of their antihypertensives, defined as a new antihypertensive medication or an increase of 20% of a prior medication.
Patients discharged with regimen intensification were more likely to be readmitted (hazard ratio, 1.23; 95% confidence interval, 1.07-1.42; number needed to harm = 27), experience a medication-related serious adverse event (HR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.06-1.88; NNH = 63), and have a cardiovascular event (HR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.13-2.4) within 30 days of discharge. At 1 year, no significant difference in mortality, cardiovascular events, or systolic BP were noted between the two groups.
A subgroup analysis of patients with poorly controlled blood pressure as outpatients (defined as systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mm Hg) who had their anti-hypertensive medications intensified did not show significant difference in 30-day readmission, severe adverse events, or cardiovascular events.
Limitations of the study include observational design and majority male sex (97.5%) of the study population.
Bottom line: Intensification of antihypertensive regimen among older adults hospitalized for noncardiac conditions with well-controlled blood pressure as an outpatient can potentially cause harm.
Citation: Anderson TS et al. Clinical outcomes after intensifying antihypertensive medication regimens among older adults at hospital discharge. JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Aug 19..
Dr. Zarookian is a hospitalist at Maine Medical Center in Portland and Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Maine.