Experts Explore Potential Benefits of Treating Prehypertension

The lead author of a recently-published study of treating prehypertension says the positive findings of his research offer the prospect that early intervention may be able to prevent the emergence of high blood pressure.

Stevo Julius, MD, ScD, Emeritus Professor of Internal Medicine and Physiology at the University of Michigan examined the implications of the TROPHY (Trial Of Preventing Hypertension) study today in New York City in a panel discussion at the 21st Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH 2006).

The TROPHY study was the first evaluation of the effects of pharmacological intervention in patients with prehypertension. It found that, compared to placebo over a four-year period, treatment of prehypertension with ATACAND© (candesartan cilexetil) significantly reduced the relative risk of developing hypertension. Results of the research appeared last month in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“TROPHY demonstrated the feasibility of using medication to interrupt the progression from prehypertension to hypertension,” Dr. Julius explained. “The next step is to determine whether that progression can be halted on a long-term basis.”

An estimated 59 million adults in the United States have prehypertension under the current classifications of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressures (JNC 7), which defines the condition as blood pressure in the range of 120-139 / 80-89 mm Hg.

Last September, The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, the official publication of the American Society of Hypertension, published a Position Paper in which the Hypertension Writing Group - led by Thomas D. Giles, MD, president of the American Society of Hypertension and professor of medicine at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans - recommended an expanded definition of hypertension, urging physicians to view it as a progressive cardiovascular syndrome that can begin, and increase the risk of cardiovascular consequences such as heart attack and stroke, even before elevated blood pressure appears.

And, at the American Society of Hypertension’s annual Winter Conference last January - attended by two dozen of the nation’s foremost experts on hypertension, representing eighteen schools of medicine and academic medical centers, two government institutions devoted to healthcare research, and two of the nation’s leading pharmaceutical companies- there was consensus on the need for increased government and pharmaceutical industry research to identify strategies to prevent hypertension.

American Society of Hypertension (ASH)

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Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD