Antihypertensive drugs reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. This was demonstrated by controlled clinical trials. While most complications are dramatically reduced it is not certain whether the incidence of myocardial infarction is decreased by treatment or whether the severity of the infarct is reduced. The prognosis in patients with borderline and mild hypertension varies widely depending on the number of other risk factors present. Patients with mild hypertension and low risk profiles may not obtain enough benefit from treatment to justify the side effects, inconvenience, and expense of such therapy. Such patients should be individually evaluated as to the need and desirability of treatment. Patients who are not treated with drugs should be seen for an annual follow-up to detect progression. Low sodium diets are effective but they are not practical because it is difficult to adhere to the required degree of sodium restriction. Weight-reducing diets also reduce blood pressure but compliance again is difficult, although it is worth advocating for the few patients who will maintain the diet more or less indefinitely. Between 1973 and 1977 in the United States there has been an 8% decline in deaths due to heart disease, a 17% decrease in deaths due to stroke, and an increase in average life expectancy from 71.3 to 72.8 years. Could this be the result of more widespread treatment?
- Copyright © 1981 by American Heart Association