The heart, kidney, and brain as target organs in hypertension

Cardiol Clin. 2002 May;20(2):225-47. doi: 10.1016/s0733-8651(02)00004-8.


The heart, kidney, brain, and arterial blood vessels are prime targets of hypertensive damage. Uncontrolled hypertension accelerates the damage to these organs and results in eventual organ failure and cardiovascular death and disability. Current guidelines for the appropriate treatment and control of hypertension requires an assessment of the presence of target organ damage. When present, evidence of target organ damage determines the urgency and intensity of drug treatment and may also dictate the choice of initial antihypertensive drug class. Thus, evaluation of persons with suspected or established hypertension must include a meticulous search for evidence of target organ damage. Fortunately, treatment with all antihypertensive medications that results in significant BP reductions also reduces fatal and nonfatal hypertensive complications and significantly slows down the progression to organ failure. Because of the important role that adverse activation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system plays in target organ damage, drugs that antagonize this system have provided consistent and compelling proof of organ protection in both primary and secondary prevention of adverse outcomes. The challenge now is to use these and all other antihypertensive agents effectively to control BP to target levels in patients with hypertension. Continued emphasis on the adoption of lifestyle changes for prevention of hypertension in the first place or as adjunctive therapy in hypertensive patients is essential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Diseases / etiology*
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Diseases / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / etiology*
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Kidney Diseases / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged