Objective: - To examine the prevalence, incidence, predisposing factors for hypertension, its hazards as an ingredient of the cardiovascular risk profile, and the implications of this information for prevention and treatment.
Methods: - Prospective longitudinal analysis of 36-year follow-up data from the Framingham Study of the relation of antecedent blood pressure to occurrence of subsequent cardiovascular morbidity and mortality depending on the metabolically linked burden of associated risk factors.
Results: - Hypertension is one of the most prevalent and powerful contributors to cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in the United States. There is, on average, a 20 mm Hg systolic and 10 mm Hg diastolic increment increase in blood pressure from age 30 to 65 years. Isolated systolic hypertension is the dominant variety. There is no evidence of a decline in the prevalence of hypertension over 4 decades despite improvements in its detection and treatment. Hypertension contributes to all of the major atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease outcomes increasing risk, on average, 2- to 3-fold. Coronary disease, the most lethal and common sequela, deserves highest priority. Hypertension clusters with dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, and obesity, occurring in isolation in less than 20%. The hazard depends on the number of these associated metabolically linked risk factors present. Coexistent overt cardiovascular disease also influences the hazard and choice of therapy.
Conclusion: - The absence of a decline in the prevalence of hypertension indicates an urgent need for primary prevention by weight control, exercise, and reduced salt and alcohol intake. The urgency and choice of therapy of existing hypertension should be based on the multivariate cardiovascular risk profile that more appropriately targets hypertensive persons for treatment and prevention of cardiovascular sequelae.