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Objectives. To compare antihypertensive drug compliance with treatment guidelines established by the Sixth Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC VI), and to identify patient adherence to antihypertensive drugs and factors affecting prescribing patterns.

Methods. Patients filling antihypertensive drug prescriptions in metropolitan New York area pharmacies were enrolled. Pharmacy externs collected patient-reported demographics, medical and drug histories, and blood pressure measurements. Compliance with JNC VI guidelines was assessed.

Results. Eight hundred twenty-one patients from 102 pharmacies participated. Blood pressure was controlled in 61% of patients at the time of the study. The most prescribed class of antihypertensive agents was angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, followed by diuretics and β-blockers. Over the study period, compliance with JNC VI guidelines decreased significantly from 85% to 64% (p<0.05). Thirty-seven percent of patients reported consistent adherence to their antihypertensive regimens. Patients' education level was the only factor found to correlate positively with the appropriateness of antihypertensive agents prescribed.

Conclusion. Compliance with JNC VI guidelines decreased over time, and patient adherence to drug therapy was suboptimal. Continuing-education efforts to reinforce optimal blood pressure management are necessary.