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A diagnosis of malignant hypertension was recorded for 165 patients in the national morbidity study between 1970 and 1973. Three patients with benign hypertension were selected as age- and sex-matched controls for each case. The general practitioners in the study were asked to complete a further questionnaire about the patients and 66% of the practices agreed to take part. Information about the retinal findings for the patients was requested and less than half of those in the national morbidity study proved to have a strict diagnosis of accelerated or malignant hypertension although they were originally recorded as patients with malignant hypertension. Of those patients originally classified as having benign hypertension 5% had the retinal appearance of accelerated or malignant hypertension.
Patients had been diagnosed as having hypertension for a mean of more than five years prior to entry into the national morbidity study and the survival of patients with both benign and accelerated or malignant hypertension was good. Thirtyfour per cent of those with confirmed benign hypertension and 62% of those with definite accelerated or malignant hypertension died in the follow-up period which was on average 10 years from entry into the national morbidity study.
The survival of patients registered with doctors who did not collaborate and of patients whose clinical details were missing was similar to the survival of patients for whom full details were provided.
Blood pressure control was only fair with a mean of 172/101 mmHg for the group with benign hypertension and 177/107 mmHg for the group with accelerated or malignant hypertension. Blood pressure control was the poorest for those who died from a stroke. A high proportion (78%) of deaths in association with accelerated or malignant hypertension were from cardiovascular or renal causes.