Contact: Claudie Benjamin
American Heart Association Calls UMDNJ Study on Prehypertension
a "Medical Breakthrough for 2005"
(2/22/06)—The American Heart Association recently placed a University Hospital/New Jersey Medical School study that sets new standards for evaluating hypertension on its list of ten medical breakthroughs for 2005.
The study, led by Dr. Adnan Qureshi of University Hospital’s department of Neurology and Neurosciences, found that prehypertension is the most common type of abnormal blood pressure in United States. The results of his team’s study "Prevalence and Trends of Prehypertension and Hypertension in the United States: National Heart and Nutrition Examination Surveys 1976-2000," indicate that unlike hypertension, the prevalence of pre-hypertension has increased over the last 10 years in the United States for all ethnicities.
Dr. Qureshi's research findings were published in Medical Science Monitor in September. The importance of this research conducted at the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center was acknowledged as "a breakthrough advancement in cardiovascular medicine in 2005" by the American Heart Association.
The key finding is that a prehypertensive person is more than three times more likely to have a heart attack, and 1.7 times more likely to have heart disease, than a person with normal blood pressure. Dr. Qureshi found that people with prehypertension are at much higher risk of heart attack and heart disease.
Prehypertension is systolic blood pressure between 120 and 139, and/or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg. Systolic pressure is pressure against the artery wall when the heart beats; diastolic pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between heart beats. Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Hypertension is blood pressure 140/90 mm Hg or higher. About 59 million people in the United States are prehypertensive.
The term prehypertension was conceived just two years year ago, and refers to the gray area between normal blood pressure and hypertension. Dr. Qureshi estimates that if prehypertension was treated aggressively, 47 percent of all heart attacks could be prevented.
Dr. Qureshi said early treatment in pre-hypertensive patients may prevent worsening of their condition, the risk of heart attacks and stroke and the need for multiple interventions.
Recommended treatment for pre-hypertension includes weight control, regular physical activity and changes in diet and other life style changes. Further evidence is awaited to see if starting antihypertensive medication at this early stage would be beneficial or not.