Apparent treatment-resistant hypertension (aTRH) is defined as uncontrolled blood pressure (BP) in patients taking three or more antihypertensive medications. Some patients will have true treatment-resistant hypertension, some undiagnosed secondary hypertension, while others have pseudo-resistance. Pseudo-resistance occurs when non-adherence to medication, white-coat hypertension (WCH), lifestyle, and inadequate drug dosing are responsible for the poorly controlled BP.
To examine the feasibility of establishing non-adherence to medication, for the first time in primary care, using mass spectrometry urine analysis. Operationalisation would be established by at least 50% of patients participating and 95% of samples being suitable for analysis. Clinical importance would be confirmed by >10% of patients being non-adherent.
Eligible patients with aTRH (n = 453) in 15 university research-affiliated Irish general practices were invited to participate.
Participants underwent mass spectrometry urine analysis to test adherence and ambulatory BP monitoring (ABPM) to examine WCH.
Of the eligible patients invited, 52% (n = 235) participated. All 235 urine samples (100%) were suitable for analysis: 174 (74%) patients were fully adherent, 56 (24%) partially adherent, and five (2%) fully non-adherent to therapy. A total of 206 patients also had ABPM, and in total 92 (45%) were categorised as pseudo-resistant. No significant associations were found between adherence status and patient characteristics or drug class.
In patients with aTRH, the authors have established that it is feasible to examine non-adherence to medications using mass spectrometry urine analysis. One in four patients were found to be partially or fully non-adherent. Further research on how to incorporate this approach into individual patient consultations and its associated cost-effectiveness is now appropriate.