CONTEXT: Hypertension is one of the most important cardiovascular risk factors but its control is still a challenge for physicians all around the world. For blood pressure control to be improved, it is important to guarantee the quality of attendance provided for hypertensive patients, especially in teaching hospitals, where future physicians are being trained. OBJECTIVE: To characterize the profile of hypertensive patients attending the internal medicine outpatient clinic of a university hospital in Rio de Janeiro,describing their cardiovascular risk and identifying flaws in the treatment provided for severely hypertensive patients, in order to implement an arterial hypertension management program. TYPE OF STUDY: A descriptive cross-sectional population-based study. SETTING: Hospital Universitario Clementino Fraga Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. METHODS: The study was carried out over a period of four months, involving all the hypertensive patients under treatment in the outpatient unit. The attending physician obtained information relating to demographic features, cardiovascular risk factors, target organ damage, blood pressure levels, therapeutic regimens and compliance with treatment. Means and the respective standard deviations and proportions were used to describe the distribution of patient data. RESULTS: Of the total number of patients seen, 24.2% (1,699 patients) were hypertensive. Women accounted for 65.0% of the patients. The mean age was 63.9 years. Dyslipidemia (49.2%) and diabetes (29.8%) were the most frequently reported risk factors and heart disease was the most prevalent end-organ damage. Seventy percent of the patients were classified as high cardiovascular risk. In spite of the high intensity treatment provided for the most severe patients (19.4% on a regimen of 3 or more antihypertensive drugs), the rate of blood pressure control was low (27%). CONCLUSIONS: The patients with arterial hypertension under treatment at the university hospital had a profile of high cardiovascular risk and poor blood pressure control. Greater effort for improving hypertension control is needed, since this is the only way to reduce the morbidity and mortality rates of cardiovascular diseases.
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