Prehypertension and the Continuum of Stroke Risk

Posted at — Mario Hernández Cueto — octubre 24th, 2011 — 6:06 under noticia

Prehypertension and the Continuum of Stroke Risk

Prehypertension, especially in the higher range, is associated with incident stroke.

To assess whether so-called prehypertension is associated with incident stroke, researchers
conducted a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. The analysis included 518,520
participants from 12 studies originating in the U.S., China, Japan, and India. Prehypertension was
defined as systolic blood pressure of 120–139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of 80–89 mm Hg.

In seven of the studies, prehypertension was further subdivided into a low range (120–129 mm Hg
systolic or 80–84 mm Hg diastolic) and a high range (130–139 mm Hg systolic or 85–89 mm Hg

Overall, prehypertension was associated with a significantly increased risk for stroke (relative risk,
1.55) that was driven by higher-range prehypertension (RR, 1.79). Lower-range prehypertension was
not significantly associated with increased stroke risk. In subgroup analyses by baseline
characteristics, the association was not affected by race/ethnicity, stroke endpoint (fatal vs. all
stroke), stroke subtype (ischemic vs. hemorrhagic), or follow-up duration (<10 vs. ≥10 years). The
association did not remain significant for people older than 65 and when study quality was only

The authors conclude that prehypertension, especially in the higher range, is associated with incident stroke.

Hypertension is associated with stroke on a continuum of risk (Lancet Neurol 2002; 1:149). For example, mild, moderate, and severe hypertension are all associated with stroke risk, with the
highest relative risk for stroke among those with the highest blood pressure, and the greatest
absolute number of strokes in those with mild or “high-normal” blood pressure, a designation that
includes prehypertension. The current findings support the concept of a continuum of risk for stroke
with increasing blood pressure, especially among patients with higher-range prehypertension.

However, whether lowering blood pressure in the prehypertension range will reduce stroke risk
remains uncertain; this hypothesis deserves additional efficacy, safety, and cost-effectiveness
testing. Currently, rigorous lifestyle modification is recommended for people with prehypertension. A
blood pressure target <130/80 mm Hg has been recommended for those with, for example, diabetes
mellitus, chronic renal disease, or carotid artery disease and for those with 10-year Framingham risk scores of ≥10% (Circulation 2007; 115:2761).


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