It is well established that blood pressure lowering is effective for the primary prevention of stroke and other cardiovascular disorders in subjects with blood pressures as low as 140/90 mmHg, and up to 80 years of age. Despite this knowledge, blood pressure levels are controlled in less than 25% of the hypertensive population worldwide. It has taken longer to prove that blood pressure lowering is equally effective for the prevention of recurrent stroke. The results of PROGRESS (Perindopril Protection Against Recurrent Stroke Study) have confirmed that a perindopril-based regimen in subjects with cerebrovascular disease substantially reduces the incidence of secondary stroke and primary myocardial infarction. It is daunting to recall that it has taken almost two decades for beta-blockers to be widely used for the secondary prevention of myocardial infarction, since widespread use of the PROGRESS regimen would prevent more than half a million strokes worldwide each year. The real challenge now is to implement novel and effective strategies for the control of blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors worldwide. Strategies should include lifestyle measures, such as stopping smoking, exercise and reducing overweight. There is a real need to identify hypertensive subjects and treat them with blood pressure lowering drugs for primary prevention. In subjects with established cardiovascular disease, consideration should be given to a range of proven interventions for secondary prevention, such as blood pressure lowering, irrespective of current blood pressure, anti-platelet drugs, statins for lowering cholesterol and glycaemic control in diabetics. Among new strategies to lower overall cardiovascular risk, consideration should be given to the development of single-pill combinations of drugs of known efficacy, including various combinations of ACE inhibitors, diuretics, beta-blockers, aspirin and statins, among others.
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
- Antihypertensive drugs
- Blood pressure lowering
- Cardiovascular risk
- Stroke prevention