Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hypertension and type 2 diabetes: What family physicians can do to improve control of blood pressure - an observational study

Wayne Putnam1*, Beverley Lawson1, Farokh Buhariwalla2, Mary Goodfellow2, Rose Anne Goodine2, Jennifer Hall2, Kendrick Lacey2, Ian MacDonald2, Frederick I Burge1, Nandini Natarajan1, Ingrid Sketris3, Beth Mann4, Peggy Dunbar5, Kristine Van Aarsen1 and Marshall S Godwin6

Author affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Dalhousie University, Oxford St., Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada

2 Community-based physician

3 College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University, Oxford St., Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada

4 Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Oxford St., Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada

5 Diabetes Care Program of Nova Scotia, South Park St., Halifax, NS, B3H 2Y9, Canada

6 Discipline of Family Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, PO Box 4200, St. John's, NL, A1C 5S7, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Family Practice 2011, 12:86  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-12-86

Published: 11 August 2011



The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is rising, and most of these patients also have hypertension, substantially increasing the risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The majority of these patients do not reach target blood pressure levels for a wide variety of reasons. When a literature review provided no clear focus for action when patients are not at target, we initiated a study to identify characteristics of patients and providers associated with achieving target BP levels in community-based practice.


We conducted a practice- based, cross-sectional observational and mailed survey study. The setting was the practices of 27 family physicians and nurse practitioners in 3 eastern provinces in Canada. The participants were all patients with type 2 diabetes who could understand English, were able to give consent, and would be available for follow-up for more than one year. Data were collected from each patient's medical record and from each patient and physician/nurse practitioner by mailed survey. Our main outcome measures were overall blood pressure at target (< 130/80), systolic blood pressure at target, and diastolic blood pressure at target. Analysis included initial descriptive statistics, logistic regression models, and multivariate regression using hierarchical nonlinear modeling (HNLM).


Fifty-four percent were at target for both systolic and diastolic pressures. Sixty-two percent were at systolic target, and 79% were at diastolic target. Patients who reported eating food low in salt had higher odds of reaching target blood pressure. Similarly, patients reporting low adherence to their medication regimen had lower odds of reaching target blood pressure.


When primary care health professionals are dealing with blood pressures above target in a patient with type 2 diabetes, they should pay particular attention to two factors. They should inquire about dietary salt intake, strongly emphasize the importance of reduction, and refer for detailed counseling if necessary. Similarly, they should inquire about adherence to the medication regimen, and employ a variety of patient-oriented strategies to improve adherence.