Posted on March 07, 2018

The most up to date treatment guidelines for hypertension were explained at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) by visiting expert Dr. Mark Pecker.

Speaking at the latest WCM-Q Grand Rounds event, Dr. Pecker, Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Nephrology & Hypertension at Weill Cornell Medicine - New York said that the global burden of hypertension – high blood pressure – is huge and growing. “Hypertension is the largest risk factor for death in the world,” said Dr. Pecker. “It accounts for around 9.4 million deaths around the world per year, about 54 percent of them strokes and 47 percent heart attacks. It accounts for roughly one-third of the deaths in Europe and in Asia. Hypertension has also become much more common in low- and middle-income countries.”

More encouragingly, treating hypertension is an extremely effective way of improving health outcomes, said Dr. Pecker: “Treating hypertension really works. So when you lower blood pressure you can reliably lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and related problems. Of all the risk factors for heart disease it is by far the most treatable and the easiest to deal with.”

Dr. Pecker outlined the history of hypertension measurement and treatment, and discussed developments in treatment. Dr. Pecker explained that a recent trial, the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) had concluded that intensive treatment aiming for a target systolic blood pressure of <120 mm Hg, rather than the previous method of routine treatment aiming to manage blood pressure to a target of <140 mm Hg, delivered significant cardiovascular benefit in high-risk patients with hypertension. Dr. Pecker said: “The SPRINT trial has provided us with some amazing data. At the end of three years they were able to show that there a dramatic decrease in overall mortality in the intensively treated group. This is a wake-up call. It’s a whole other way of looking at blood pressure than we have been used to.”

The SPRINT trial led to a great deal of very comprehensive and complex new guidance for healthcare practitioners, and Dr. Pecker gave a synopsis of their implications with regards to patient selection, blood pressure measurement techniques and optimization of therapy. The lecture was accredited locally by the Qatar Council for Healthcare Practitioners-Accreditation Department (QCHP-AD) and internationally by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME).