To whom recommend intensive treatment for hypertension?

Massimo Volpe, Giovanna Gallo

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Arterial hypertension is the main identifiable cardiovascular risk factor, and although the benefit of blood pressure reduction is universally acknowledged, the scientific community has long been divided over the therapeutic blood pressure targets to be reached, also considering the estimated overall cardiovascular risk and the presence of individual risk factors and associated comorbidities. During the last few years, numerous clinical studies and meta-analyses, in particular, the SPRINT study, have been published, demonstrating the advantages of an intensive antihypertensive treatment, over a target blood pressure value (<140/90 mmHg), in the reduction of major cardiovascular events, myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, and all-causes cardiovascular mortality. Stemming from these results the major International Guidelines revisited the therapeutic objectives, recommending blood pressure value <130/80 mmHg for the vast majority of hypertensive patients until the age of 65 and suggesting a reduction of the target also in the elderly. Numerous studies and meta-analyses demonstrated that the reduction of the risk of coronary or cerebral events, and of all-causes cardiovascular mortality, is independent from the baseline value of blood pressure and the individual estimated risk. It has been also demonstrated that an early institution of antihypertensive treatment is associated with a faster realization of the recommended targets, and consequent significant benefits in terms of reduction of the incidence of myocardial infarction, heart failure, and major cardiovascular events, particularly when blood pressure control is achieved during the first 6 months of treatment, and even better during first 3 months. Other studies outlined that combination therapy with two or more drugs, mainly in a single pill configuration, are superior in reaching the recommended therapeutic targets. This is the reason why this strategy is strongly supported by the European Society of Cardiology/European Society of Hypertension (ESC/ESH) 2018 Guidelines, specifically the use of renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors [angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and Sartans], in combination with calcium antagonist and/or thiazide diuretics, with the option to add antagonist of mineralcorticoid receptors, when an adequate blood pressure control has not been reached, or other classes of drugs, such as beta-blockers, when specific clinical indications are present, first and foremost ischaemic cardiomyopathy or heart failure. The newly proposed therapeutic goals are particularly important in high-risk patients, such as patients with previous cardiovascular events, diabetes mellitus, renal insufficiency, and patients older than 65 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E167-E172
JournalEuropean Heart Journal, Supplement
Issue numberSuppl E
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


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