Background: Multiple uncontrolled medical conditions may act as competing demands for clinical decision making. We hypothesized that multiple uncontrolled cardiovascular risk factors would decrease blood pressure (BP) medication intensification among uncontrolled hypertensive patients.Methods: We observed 946 encounters at two VA primary care clinics from May through August 2006. After each encounter, clinicians recorded BP medication intensification (BP medication was added or titrated). Demographic, clinical, and laboratory information were collected from the medical record. We examined BP medication intensification by presence and control of diabetes and/or hyperlipidemia. 'Uncontrolled' was defined as hemoglobin A1c ≥ for diabetes, BP ≥ 140/90 mmHg (≥ 130/80 mmHg if diabetes present) for hypertension, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c) ≥ 130 mg/dl (≥ 100 mg/dl if diabetes present) for hyperlipidemia. Hierarchical regression models accounted for patient clustering and adjusted medication intensification for age, systolic BP, and number of medications.Results: Among 387 patients with uncontrolled hypertension, 51.4% had diabetes (25.3% were uncontrolled) and 73.4% had hyperlipidemia (22.7% were uncontrolled). The BP medication intensification rate was 34.9% overall, but higher in individuals with uncontrolled diabetes and uncontrolled hyperlipidemia: 52.8% overall and 70.6% if systolic BP ≥ 10 mmHg above goal. Intensification rates were lowest if diabetes or hyperlipidemia were controlled, lower than if diabetes or hyperlipidemia were not present. Multivariable adjustment yielded similar results.Conclusions: The presence of uncontrolled diabetes and hyperlipidemia was associated with more guideline-concordant hypertension care, particularly if BP was far from goal. Efforts to understand and improve BP medication intensification in patients with controlled diabetes and/or hyperlipidemia are warranted. © 2010 Salanitro et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.