Expanding the Definition and Classification of Hypertension

Authors

  • Thomas D. Giles MD,

    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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  • 1 Bradford C. Berk MD, PhD,

    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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  • 2 Henry R. Black MD,

    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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  • 3 Jay N. Cohn MD,

    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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  • 4 John B. Kostis MD,

    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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  • 5 Joseph L. Izzo Jr. MD,

    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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  • and 6 Michael A. Weber MD 7

    on behalf of the Hypertension Writing Group
    1. From Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, LA;1University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY;2Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL;3University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN;4Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;5State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY;6 and State University of New York Downstate College of Medicine, Brooklyn, NY7
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Thomas D. Giles, MD, Professor of Medicine, Director of Cardiovascular Research, Louisiana State University School of Medicine, 1542 Tulane Avenue, Suite 331E, New Orleans, LA 70112
E-mail: tgiles@lsuhsc.edu

Abstract

Cardiovascular abnormalities are frequently the cause, as well as the effect, of elevated blood pressure. As such, early cardiovascular disease (CVD) may be established before identifiable blood pressure thresholds are crossed. To identify individuals at risk for CVD at an earlier point in the disease process, as well as to avoid labeling persons as hypertensive who are at low risk for CVD, the Hypertension Writing Group proposes incorporating the presence or absence of cardiovascular risk factors, early disease markers, and target organ damage into the definition and classification scheme of hypertension. To describe both the complexity and progressive nature of hypertension, the following definition is proposed: “Hypertension is a progressive cardiovascular syndrome arising from complex and interrelated etiologies. Early markers of the syndrome are often present before blood pressure elevation is observed; therefore, hypertension cannot be classified solely by discrete blood pressure thresholds. Progression is strongly associated with functional and structural cardiac and vascular abnormalities that damage the heart, kidneys, brain, vasculature, and other organs and lead to premature morbidity and death.” Classification of hypertension must involve assessing global cardiovascular risk to situate an individual's risk for CVD and events along a continuum. As knowledge of early CVD continues to evolve, the approach to classifying individuals along that continuum can be expected to evolve accordingly. The four categories currently used to classify hypertension are normal, prehypertension, and stages 1 and 2 hypertension. The population identified with prehypertension includes a subgroup with early CVD. We believe it would be preferable to classify all individuals as either normal or hypertensive, based on their cardiovascular evaluation, using the four categories of normal and stages 1, 2, and 3 hypertension.

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