Background: Hypertension is the most common treatable risk factor for stroke. Efforts have been made to raise the awareness of both hypertension and stroke. There is a lack of clear understanding of the current state of knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about hypertension and stroke among patients, the public, and physicians. Objectives: To understand the level of knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions regarding hypertension and stroke among patients, the public, and physicians and to highlight the practices of physicians in managing hypertension given current hypertension guideline recommendations. Methods: Current Contents, Embase, and Medline databases were searched to identify manuscripts published between January 1994 and December 2004 reporting surveys concerning the knowledge and perceptions of patients, the public, and physicians regarding hypertension and stroke. Studies were summarized and collated into a spreadsheet. Results: Of a total of 85 manuscripts identified, only 43 contained information meeting the study objectives. Based on the reported results, it was observed that patients and public alike are generally aware that hypertension is one of the risk factors of stroke, and that stroke could be a consequence of hypertension, but do not consider hypertension to be a serious health concern. Physicians appreciate the importance of managing hypertension to avoid future complications such as stroke. However, they do not conform to the recommendations made in various hypertension guidelines. They have higher thresholds than guideline recommendations for defining and categorizing hypertension, for starting antihypertensive therapy, and for target blood pressure goals. They do not aggressively manage hypertension in older people, considering that the elderly are at greater risk for developing stroke. Conclusions: Patients and public are aware of the link between hypertension and stroke but do not appreciate the consequences of uncontrolled hypertension. Physicians worldwide need to engage in patient communication regarding hypertension, stroke, and the dangers of uncontrolled hypertension, and need to implement guideline recommendations for hypertension diagnosis and management.
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