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INTRODUCTION

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CASE STUDY

A 35-year-old man presents with a blood pressure of 150/95 mm Hg. He has been generally healthy, is sedentary, drinks several cocktails per day, and does not smoke cigarettes. He has a family history of hypertension, and his father died of a myocardial infarction at age 55. Physical examination is remarkable only for moderate obesity. Total cholesterol is 220, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level is 40 mg/dL. Fasting glucose is 105 mg/dL. Chest x-ray is normal. Electrocardiogram shows left ventricular enlargement. How would you treat this patient?

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Hypertension is the most common cardiovascular disease. In a survey carried out in 2009, hypertension was found in 28% of American adults and 60% of adults 65 years or older. The prevalence varies with age, race, education, and many other variables. According to some studies, 60–80% of both men and women will develop hypertension by age 80. Sustained arterial hypertension damages blood vessels in kidney, heart, and brain and leads to an increased incidence of renal failure, coronary disease, heart failure, stroke, and dementia. Effective pharmacologic lowering of blood pressure has been shown to prevent damage to blood vessels and to substantially reduce morbidity and mortality rates. Unfortunately, several surveys indicate that only one third to one half of Americans with hypertension have adequate blood pressure control. Many effective drugs are available. Knowledge of their antihypertensive mechanisms and sites of action allows accurate prediction of efficacy and toxicity. The rational use of these agents, alone or in combination, can lower blood pressure with minimal risk of serious toxicity in most patients.

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HYPERTENSION & REGULATION OF BLOOD PRESSURE

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Diagnosis

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The diagnosis of hypertension is based on repeated, reproducible measurements of elevated blood pressure (Table 11–1). The diagnosis serves primarily as a prediction of consequences for the patient; it seldom includes a statement about the cause of hypertension.

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Table Graphic Jump Location
TABLE 11–1Classification of hypertension on the basis of blood pressure.
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Epidemiologic studies indicate that the risks of damage to kidney, heart, and brain are directly related to the extent of blood pressure elevation. Even mild hypertension (blood pressure 140/90 mm Hg) increases the risk of eventual end-organ damage. Starting at 115/75 mm Hg, cardiovascular disease risk doubles with each increment of 20/10 mm Hg throughout the blood pressure range. Both systolic hypertension and diastolic hypertension are associated with end-organ damage; so-called isolated systolic hypertension is not benign. The risks—and therefore the urgency of instituting therapy—increase in proportion to the magnitude of blood pressure elevation. The risk ...

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