Hypertension is an established risk factor for all the clinical sequelae of coronary artery disease. Despite this, individual therapeutic trials of antihypertensive therapy have not demonstrated the expected reduction in coronary morbidity and mortality. This apparent failure is perhaps not surprising when one considers the multifactorial nature of coronary artery disease and the different ways in which hypertension may affect the coronary circulation. Much debate has also centered on the antihypertensive therapy used in major trials in that it may in some way prevent the reduction in coronary mortality. However, thus far no clear evidence of a harmful effect has emerged. Reducing coronary mortality in hypertensive patients is a major challenge but one that can be effectively surmounted by approaching these different factors in a concerted manner. The ultimate goal must be to prevent the development of hypertension and left ventricular hypertrophy, but until such time as that can be achieved, the early detection of hypertension is mandatory. The optimal levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressures must be established. Studies on the more recent antihypertensive agents hold promise for a more specific effect on the atherosclerotic process as well as sustained control of arterial blood pressure. In this regard, it would seem essential to develop more precise ways of quantifying atherosclerosis and thus clarifying the nature of its relation to hypertension. Finally, management of hypertension must include precise assessment of the patient's overall cardiovascular risk status and appropriate and aggressive management of all risk factors for coronary artery disease.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association