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1.  The Influence of Health Systems on Hypertension Awareness, Treatment, and Control: A Systematic Literature Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001490.
Will Maimaris and colleagues systematically review the evidence that national or regional health systems, including place of care and medication co-pays, influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Hypertension (HT) affects an estimated one billion people worldwide, nearly three-quarters of whom live in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs). In both developed and developing countries, only a minority of individuals with HT are adequately treated. The reasons are many but, as with other chronic diseases, they include weaknesses in health systems. We conducted a systematic review of the influence of national or regional health systems on HT awareness, treatment, and control.
Methods and Findings
Eligible studies were those that analyzed the impact of health systems arrangements at the regional or national level on HT awareness, treatment, control, or antihypertensive medication adherence. The following databases were searched on 13th May 2013: Medline, Embase, Global Health, LILACS, Africa-Wide Information, IMSEAR, IMEMR, and WPRIM. There were no date or language restrictions. Two authors independently assessed papers for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. A narrative synthesis of the findings was conducted. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to substantial methodological heterogeneity in included studies. 53 studies were included, 11 of which were carried out in LMICs. Most studies evaluated health system financing and only four evaluated the effect of either human, physical, social, or intellectual resources on HT outcomes. Reduced medication co-payments were associated with improved HT control and treatment adherence, mainly evaluated in US settings. On balance, health insurance coverage was associated with improved outcomes of HT care in US settings. Having a routine place of care or physician was associated with improved HT care.
Conclusions
This review supports the minimization of medication co-payments in health insurance plans, and although studies were largely conducted in the US, the principle is likely to apply more generally. Studies that identify and analyze complexities and links between health systems arrangements and their effects on HT management are required, particularly in LMICs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2008, one billion people, three-quarters of whom were living in low- and middle-income countries, had high blood pressure (hypertension). Worldwide, hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, leads to about 7.5 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and kidney disease. Hypertension, selected by the World Health Organization as the theme for World Health Day 2013, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is contracts to pump blood out (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart relaxes and refills (diastolic blood pressure). Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mmHg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mmHg). A blood pressure reading of more than 140/90 mmHg indicates hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty foods are at high risk of developing hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most individuals can achieve good hypertension control, which reduces death and disability from cardiovascular and kidney disease, by making lifestyle changes (mild hypertension) and/or by taking antihypertensive drugs. Yet, in both developed and developing countries, many people with hypertension are not aware of their condition and are not adequately treated. As with other chronic diseases, weaknesses in health care systems probably contribute to the inadequate treatment of hypertension. A health care system comprises all the organizations, institutions, and resources whose primary purpose is to improve health. Weaknesses in health care systems can exist at the national, regional, district, community, and household level. In this systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic), the researchers investigate how national and regional health care system arrangements influence hypertension awareness, treatment, and control. Actions that might influence hypertension care at this level of health care systems include providing treatment for hypertension at no or reduced cost, the introduction of financial incentives to healthcare practitioners for the diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, and enhanced insurance coverage in countries such as the US where people pay for health care through insurance policies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 53 studies that analyzed whether regional or national health care systems arrangements were associated with patient awareness of hypertension, treatment of hypertension, adherence to antihypertensive medication treatment, and control of hypertension. The researchers used an established conceptual framework for health care systems and an approach called narrative synthesis to analyze the results of these studies, most of which were conducted in the US (36 studies) and other high-income countries (eight studies). Nearly all the studies evaluated the effects of health system financing on hypertension outcomes, although several looked at the effects of delivery and governance of health systems on these outcomes. The researchers' analysis revealed an association between reduced medication co-payments (drug costs that are not covered by health insurance and that are paid by patients in countries without universal free healthcare) and improved hypertension control and treatment adherence, mainly in US settings. In addition, in US settings, health insurance coverage was associated with improved hypertension outcomes, as was having a routine physician or place of care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that minimizing co-payments for health care and expansion of health insurance coverage in countries without universal free health care may improve the awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension. Although these findings are based mainly on US studies, they are likely to apply more generally but, importantly, these findings indicate that additional, high-quality studies are needed to unravel the impact of health systems arrangements on the management of hypertension. In particular, they reveal few studies in low- and middle-income countries where most of the global burden of hypertension lies and where weaknesses in health systems often result in deficiencies in the care of chronic diseases. Moreover, they highlight a need for studies that evaluate how aspects of health care systems other than financing (for example, delivery and governance mechanisms) and interactions between health care system arrangements affect hypertension outcomes. Without the results of such studies, governments and national and international organizations will not know the best ways to deal effectively with the global public-health crisis posed by hypertension.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure (in several languages) and personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension and a personal story about hypertension
The World Health Organization provides information on controlling blood pressure and on health systems (in several languages); its "A Global Brief on Hypertension" was published on World Health Day 2013
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001490
PMCID: PMC3728036  PMID: 23935461
2.  Risk Stratification by Self-Measured Home Blood Pressure across Categories of Conventional Blood Pressure: A Participant-Level Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(1):e1001591.
Jan Staessen and colleagues compare the risk of cardiovascular, cardiac, or cerebrovascular events in patients with elevated office blood pressure vs. self-measured home blood pressure.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The Global Burden of Diseases Study 2010 reported that hypertension is worldwide the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, causing 9.4 million deaths annually. We examined to what extent self-measurement of home blood pressure (HBP) refines risk stratification across increasing categories of conventional blood pressure (CBP).
Methods and Findings
This meta-analysis included 5,008 individuals randomly recruited from five populations (56.6% women; mean age, 57.1 y). All were not treated with antihypertensive drugs. In multivariable analyses, hazard ratios (HRs) associated with 10-mm Hg increases in systolic HBP were computed across CBP categories, using the following systolic/diastolic CBP thresholds (in mm Hg): optimal, <120/<80; normal, 120–129/80–84; high-normal, 130–139/85–89; mild hypertension, 140–159/90–99; and severe hypertension, ≥160/≥100.
Over 8.3 y, 522 participants died, and 414, 225, and 194 had cardiovascular, cardiac, and cerebrovascular events, respectively. In participants with optimal or normal CBP, HRs for a composite cardiovascular end point associated with a 10-mm Hg higher systolic HBP were 1.28 (1.01–1.62) and 1.22 (1.00–1.49), respectively. At high-normal CBP and in mild hypertension, the HRs were 1.24 (1.03–1.49) and 1.20 (1.06–1.37), respectively, for all cardiovascular events and 1.33 (1.07–1.65) and 1.30 (1.09–1.56), respectively, for stroke. In severe hypertension, the HRs were not significant (p≥0.20). Among people with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP, 67 (5.0%), 187 (18.4%), and 315 (30.3%), respectively, had masked hypertension (HBP≥130 mm Hg systolic or ≥85 mm Hg diastolic). Compared to true optimal CBP, masked hypertension was associated with a 2.3-fold (1.5–3.5) higher cardiovascular risk. A limitation was few data from low- and middle-income countries.
Conclusions
HBP substantially refines risk stratification at CBP levels assumed to carry no or only mildly increased risk, in particular in the presence of masked hypertension. Randomized trials could help determine the best use of CBP vs. HBP in guiding BP management. Our study identified a novel indication for HBP, which, in view of its low cost and the increased availability of electronic communication, might be globally applicable, even in remote areas or in low-resource settings.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Globally, hypertension (high blood pressure) is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and is responsible for 9.4 million deaths annually from heart attacks, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension, which rarely has any symptoms, is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure, the force that blood circulating in the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is pumping out blood (systolic blood pressure) and lowest when the heart is refilling (diastolic blood pressure). European guidelines define optimal blood pressure as a systolic blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic blood pressure of less than 80 mm Hg (a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg). Normal blood pressure, high-normal blood pressure, and mild hypertension are defined as blood pressures in the ranges 120–129/80–84 mm Hg, 130–139/85–89 mm Hg, and 140–159/90–99 mm Hg, respectively. A blood pressure of more than 160 mm Hg systolic or 100 mm Hg diastolic indicates severe hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure; overweight people and individuals who eat salty or fatty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Lifestyle changes and/or antihypertensive drugs can be used to control hypertension.
Why Was This Study Done?
The current guidelines for the diagnosis and management of hypertension recommend risk stratification based on conventionally measured blood pressure (CBP, the average of two consecutive measurements made at a clinic). However, self-measured home blood pressure (HBP) more accurately predicts outcomes because multiple HBP readings are taken and because HBP measurement avoids the “white-coat effect”—some individuals have a raised blood pressure in a clinical setting but not at home. Could risk stratification across increasing categories of CBP be refined through the use of self-measured HBP, particularly at CBP levels assumed to be associated with no or only mildly increased risk? Here, the researchers undertake a participant-level meta-analysis (a study that uses statistical approaches to pool results from individual participants in several independent studies) to answer this question.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers included 5,008 individuals recruited from five populations and enrolled in the International Database of Home Blood Pressure in Relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDHOCO) in their meta-analysis. CBP readings were available for all the participants, who measured their HBP using an oscillometric device (an electronic device for measuring blood pressure). The researchers used information on fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular, cardiac, and cerebrovascular (stroke) events to calculate the hazard ratios (HRs, indicators of increased risk) associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic HBP across standard CBP categories. In participants with optimal CBP, an increase in systolic HBP of 10-mm Hg increased the risk of any cardiovascular event by nearly 30% (an HR of 1.28). Similar HRs were associated with a 10-mm Hg increase in systolic HBP for all cardiovascular events among people with normal and high-normal CBP and with mild hypertension, but for people with severe hypertension, systolic HBP did not significantly add to the prediction of any end point. Among people with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP, 5%, 18.4%, and 30.4%, respectively, had a HBP of 130/85 or higher (“masked hypertension,” a higher blood pressure in daily life than in a clinical setting). Finally, compared to individuals with optimal CBP without masked hypertension, individuals with masked hypertension had more than double the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that HBP measurements, particularly in individuals with masked hypertension, refine risk stratification at CBP levels assumed to be associated with no or mildly elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. That is, HBP measurements can improve the prediction of cardiovascular complications or death among individuals with optimal, normal, and high-normal CBP but not among individuals with severe hypertension. Clinical trials are needed to test whether the identification and treatment of masked hypertension leads to a reduction of cardiovascular complications and is cost-effective compared to the current standard of care, which does not include HBP measurements and does not treat people with normal or high-normal CBP. Until then, these findings provide support for including HBP monitoring in primary prevention strategies for cardiovascular disease among individuals at risk for masked hypertension (for example, people with diabetes), and for carrying out HBP monitoring in people with a normal CBP but unexplained signs of hypertensive target organ damage.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001591.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Mark Caulfield
The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish) and a guide to lowering high blood pressure that includes personal stories
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure and on cardiovascular diseases (in several languages); it also provides personal stories about dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information for patients about hypertension (including a personal story) and about cardiovascular disease
The World Health Organization provides information on cardiovascular disease and controlling blood pressure; its A Global Brief on Hypertension was published on World Health Day 2013
The UK charity Blood Pressure UK provides information about white-coat hypertension and about home blood pressure monitoring
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001591
PMCID: PMC3897370  PMID: 24465187
3.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 1. Methods and an overview of the Canadian recommendations. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations for health care professionals on lifestyle changes to prevent and control hypertension in otherwise healthy adults (except pregnant women). OPTIONS: For people at risk for hypertension, there are a number of lifestyle options that may avert the condition--maintaining a healthy body weight, moderating consumption of alcohol, exercising, reducing sodium intake, altering intake of calcium, magnesium and potassium, and reducing stress. Following these options will maintain or reduce the risk of hypertension. For people who already have hypertension, the options for controlling the condition are lifestyle modification, antihypertensive medications or a combination of these options; with no treatment, these people remain at risk for the complications of hypertension. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period January 1996 to September 1996 for each of the interventions studied. Reference lists were scanned, experts were polled, and the personal files of the authors were used to identify other studies. All relevant articles were reviewed, classified according to study design and graded according to level of evidence. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: Lifestyle modification by means of weight loss (or maintenance of healthy body weight), regular exercise and low alcohol consumption will reduce the blood pressure of appropriately selected normotensive and hypertensive people. Sodium restriction and stress management will reduce the blood pressure of appropriately selected hypertensive patients. The side effects of these therapies are few, and the indirect benefits are well known. There are certainly costs associated with lifestyle modification, but they were not measured in the studies reviewed. Supplementing the diet with potassium, calcium and magnesium has not been associated with a clinically important reduction in blood pressure in people consuming a healthy diet. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) It is recommended that health care professionals determine the body mass index (weight in kilograms/[height in metres]2) and alcohol consumption of all adult patients and assess sodium consumption and stress levels in all hypertensive patients. (2) To reduce blood pressure in the population at large, it is recommended that Canadians attain and maintain a healthy body mass index. For those who choose to drink alcohol intake should be limited to 2 or fewer standard drinks per day (maximum of 14/week for men and 9/week for women). Adults should exercise regularly. (3) To reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients, individualized therapy is recommended. This therapy should emphasize weight loss for overweight patients, abstinence from or moderation in alcohol intake, regular exercise, restriction of sodium intake and, in appropriate circumstances, individualized cognitive behaviour modification to reduce the negative effects of stress. VALIDATION: The recommendations were reviewed by all of the sponsoring organizations and by participants in a satellite symposium of the fourth international Conference on Preventive Cardiology. They are similar to those of the World Hypertension League and the Joint National committee, with the exception of the recommendations on stress management, which are based on new information. They have not been clinically tested. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC1230333  PMID: 10333847
4.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 3. Recommendations on alcohol consumption. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations concerning the effects of alcohol consumption on the prevention and control of hypertension in otherwise healthy adults (except pregnant women). OPTIONS: There are 2 main options for those at risk for hypertension: avert the condition by limiting alcohol consumption or by using other nonpharmacologic methods, or maintain or increase the risk of hypertension by making no change in alcohol consumption. The options for those who already have hypertension include decreasing alcohol consumption or using another nonpharmacologic method to reduce hypertension; commencing, continuing or intensifying antihypertensive medication; or taking no action and remaining at increased risk of cardiovascular disease. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period 1966-1996 with the terms ethyl alcohol and hypertension. Other relevant evidence was obtained from the reference lists of articles identified, from the personal files of the authors and through contacts with experts. The articles were reviewed, classified according to study design, and graded according to the level of evidence. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: A reduction in alcohol consumption from more than 2 standard drinks per day reduces the blood pressure of both hypertensive and normotensive people. The lowest overall mortality rates in observational studies were associated with drinking habits that were within these guidelines. Side effects and costs were not measured in any of the studies. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) It is recommended that health care professionals determine how much alcohol their patients consume. (2) To reduce blood pressure in the population at large, it is recommended that alcohol consumption be in accordance with Canadian low-risk drinking guidelines (i.e., healthy adults who choose to drink should limit alcohol consumption to 2 or fewer standard drinks per day, with consumption not exceeding 14 standard drinks per week for men and 9 standard drinks per week for women). (3) Hypertensive patients should also be advised to limit alcohol consumption to the levels set out in the Canadian low-risk drinking guidelines. VALIDATION: These recommendations are similar to those of the World Hypertension League, the National High Blood Pressure Education Program Working Group on Primary Prevention of Hypertension and the previous recommendations of the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control and the Canadian Hypertension Society. They have not been clinically tested. The low-risk drinking guidelines are those of the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. The low-risk drinking guidelines have been endorsed by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and several provincial organizations.
PMCID: PMC1230335  PMID: 10333849
5.  Effects of Intensive Blood Pressure Lowering on Cardiovascular and Renal Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001293.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis Vlado Perkovic and colleagues investigate whether more intensive blood pressure lowering regimens are associated with greater reductions in the risk of major cardiovascular events and end stage kidney disease.
Background
Guidelines recommend intensive blood pressure (BP) lowering in patients at high risk. While placebo-controlled trials have demonstrated 22% reductions in coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke associated with a 10-mmHg difference in systolic BP, it is unclear if more intensive BP lowering strategies are associated with greater reductions in risk of CHD and stroke. We did a systematic review to assess the effects of intensive BP lowering on vascular, eye, and renal outcomes.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Library for trials published between 1950 and July 2011. We included trials that randomly assigned individuals to different target BP levels.
We identified 15 trials including a total of 37,348 participants. On average there was a 7.5/4.5-mmHg BP difference. Intensive BP lowering achieved relative risk (RR) reductions of 11% for major cardiovascular events (95% CI 1%–21%), 13% for myocardial infarction (0%–25%), 24% for stroke (8%–37%), and 11% for end stage kidney disease (3%–18%). Intensive BP lowering regimens also produced a 10% reduction in the risk of albuminuria (4%–16%), and a trend towards benefit for retinopathy (19%, 0%–34%, p = 0.051) in patients with diabetes. There was no clear effect on cardiovascular or noncardiovascular death. Intensive BP lowering was well tolerated; with serious adverse events uncommon and not significantly increased, except for hypotension (RR 4.16, 95% CI 2.25 to 7.70), which occurred infrequently (0.4% per 100 person-years).
Conclusions
Intensive BP lowering regimens provided greater vascular protection than standard regimens that was proportional to the achieved difference in systolic BP, but did not have any clear impact on the risk of death or serious adverse events. Further trials are required to more clearly define the risks and benefits of BP targets below those currently recommended, given the benefits suggested by the currently available data.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
About a third of US and UK adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). Although hypertension has no obvious symptoms, it can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and other forms of cardiovascular disease, to kidney failure, and to retinopathy (blindness caused by damage to the blood vessels in the back of the eye). Hypertension is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure (BP)—the force that blood moving around the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. BP is highest when the heart is pumping out blood (systolic BP) and lowest when it is refilling with blood (diastolic BP). A normal adult BP is defined as a systolic BP of less than 130 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic BP of less than 85 mmHg (a BP of 130/85). A reading of more than 140/90 indicates hypertension. Many factors affect BP, but overweight people and individuals who eat fatty or salty food are at high risk of developing hypertension. Mild hypertension can be corrected by making lifestyle changes, but people often take antihypertensive drugs to reduce their BP.
Why Was This Study Done?
Doctors usually try to reduce the BP of their hypertensive patients to 140/90 mmHg. However, some treatment guidelines now advocate a target BP of 130/80 mmHg for individuals at high risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events, such as people with diabetes or kidney impairment. But does more intensive BP lowering actually reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke? Although placebo-controlled randomized trials of BP lowering have suggested that a 10 mmHg fall in systolic BP is associated with a 22% reduction in the risk in coronary heart disease and a 41% reduction in the risk of stroke, it is unclear whether intensive BP lowering strategies are associated with greater reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease than standard strategies. In this systematic review (a search that uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic) and meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of studies), the researchers investigate the effects of intensive BP lowering on cardiovascular, eye, and renal outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 15 randomized controlled trials in which more than 37,000 participants were randomly assigned to antihypertensive drug-based strategies designed to achieve different target BPs. On average, the more intensive strategies reduced the BP of participants by 7.5/4.5 mmHg more than the less intensive strategies. Compared to standard BP lowering strategies, more intensive BP lowering strategies reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events (a composite endpoint comprising heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and cardiovascular death) by 11%, the risk of heart attack by 13%, the risk of stroke by 24%, the risk of end-stage kidney disease by 11%, and the risk of albuminuria (protein in the urine, a sign of kidney damage) by 10%. There was also a trend towards a reduced risk for retinopathy with more intensive BP lowering but no clear reduction in cardiovascular or noncardiovascular deaths. Finally, aiming for a lower BP target did not increase the rate of drug discontinuation or the risk of serious adverse events apart from hypotension (very low BP).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, although intensive BP lowering regimens have no clear effect on the risk of death, they may provide greater protection against cardiovascular events than standard BP lowering regimens. Indeed, the researchers calculate that among every thousand hypertensive patients with a high cardiovascular risk, more intensive BP lowering could prevent two of the 20 cardiovascular events expected to happen every year. Although intensive BP lowering did not seem to increase the risk of severe adverse effects, the accuracy of this finding is limited by inconsistent reporting of adverse events in the trials included in this study. Moreover, because most of the trial participants had additional risk factors for cardiovascular events such as diabetes and chronic kidney disease, these findings may not be generalizable to people with hypertension alone. Thus, although this study suggests that a target BP of 130/80 is likely to produce an additional overall benefit compared to a target of 140/90, more trials are needed to confirm this conclusion and to determine the best way to reach the lower target.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001293.
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute has patient information about high blood pressure (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information on high blood pressure and on cardiovascular diseases (in several languages); it also provides personal stories from people dealing with high blood pressure
The UK National Health Service (NHS) Choices website also provides detailed information for patients about hypertension, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease; the NHS Local website has a collection of personal stories about hypertension and a series of films that explain hypertension
MedlinePlus provides links to further information about high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001293
PMCID: PMC3424246  PMID: 22927798
6.  Socioeconomic characteristics and controlled hypertension: Evidence from Isfahan Healthy Heart Program 
ARYA Atherosclerosis  2013;9(1):77-81.
BACKGROUND
Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. It affects approximately 18.0% of Iranian adults. This study aimed to estimate age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension and its control among Iranian persons older 19 years of age. It also tried to find and socioeconomic factors associated with hypertension control in Iranian population.
METHODS
In Isfahan Healthy Heart Program (IHHP) subjects were selected by multistage random sampling. The participants completed questionnaires containing demographic information, lifestyle habits, medical history, and consumption of relevant medications, especially antihypertensive agents. Income, marital status, and educational level were considered as socioeconomic factors. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥ 140 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure ≥ 90 mmHg, or taking antihypertensive medications. Controlled hypertension was considered as systolic blood pressure < 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure < 90 mmHg among hypertensive subjects.
RESULTS
The prevalence of hypertension and controlled hypertension was 18.9% and 20.9%, respectively. We found significant relationships between hypertension and marital status, education, and income. At age ≥ 65 years old, odds ratio (OR) was 19.09 [95% confidence interval (CI): 15.01-24.28] for hypertension. Middle family income (OR: 0.71; 95% CI: 0.58-0.87) and education level of 6-12 years (OR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.25-0.35) were significantly associated with increased risk of hypertension (P = 0.001). Among subjects aging 65 years old or higher, the OR of controlled hypertension was 2.64 (95% CI: 1.61-4.33). Married subjects had a higher OR for controlled hypertension (OR: 2.19; 95% CI: 1.36-3.52). Obesity had no significant relationships with controlled hypertension.
CONCLUSION
The IHHP data showed significant relationships between some socioeconomic factors and controlled hypertension. Therefore, as current control rates for hypertension in Iran are clearly unacceptable, we recommend preventive measures to control hypertension in all social strata of the Iranian population.
PMCID: PMC3653252  PMID: 23696763
Socioeconomic Factor; High Blood Pressure; Control
7.  Risk factors of atherosclerosis in male smokers, passive smokers, and hypertensive nonsmokers in central Iran 
ARYA Atherosclerosis  2012;8(2):90-95.
BACKGROUND
Some studies showed that smoking follows an upward trend in Asian countries as compared with other countries. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of cigarette smoking on cardiovascular diseases and risk factors of atherosclerosis in patients with hypertension.
METHODS
This study was conducted on 6123 men residing in central Iran (Isfahan and Markazi Provinces) that participated in Isfahan Healthy Heart Project (IHHP). Subjects were randomly selected using cluster sampling method. All the subjects were studied in terms of their history of cardiovascular disease, demographic characteristics, smoking, blood pressure, physical examination, pulse rate, respiratory rate, weight, height, waist circumference, and blood measurements including LDL-C, HDL-C, total cholesterol, triglyceride, fasting blood sugar and 2-hour post prandial test.
RESULTS
While 893 subjects suffered from hypertension, 5230 subjects were healthy. The hypertension prevalence was 2.5 times more in urban areas compared to rural areas that showed a significant difference as it increased to 3.5 times smoking factor was considered. The prevalence of risk factors of atherosclerosis and also cardiovascular complications in patients with hypertension were significantly higher than healthy people. Furthermore, they were higher in smokers with hypertension and those exposed to the cigarette smoke than nonsmokers.
CONCLUSION
Smoking and passive smoking had an increasing effect on the prevalence of risk factors of atherosclerosis and consequently the incidence of cardiovascular diseases in patients with hypertension.
PMCID: PMC3463995  PMID: 23056110
Hypertension; Cigarette Smoking; Cardiovascular Disease; Risk Factor
8.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 5. Recommendations on dietary salt. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations concerning the effects of dietary salt intake on the prevention and control of hypertension in adults (except pregnant women). The guidelines are intended for use in clinical practice and public education campaigns. OPTIONS: Restriction of dietary salt intake may be an alternative to antihypertensive medications or may supplement such medications. Other options include other nonpharmacologic treatments for hypertension and no treatment. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period 1966-1996 using the terms hypertension, blood pressure, vascular resistance, sodium chloride, sodium, diet, sodium or sodium chloride dietary, sodium restricted/reducing diet, clinical trials, controlled clinical trial, randomized controlled trial and random allocation. Both trials and review articles were obtained, and other relevant evidence was obtained from the reference lists of the articles identified, from the personal files of the authors and through contacts with experts. The articles were reviewed, classified according to study design and graded according to level of evidence. In addition, a systematic review of all published randomized controlled trials relating to dietary salt intake and hypertension was conducted. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: For normotensive people, a marked change in sodium intake is required to achieve a modest reduction in blood pressure (there is a decrease of 1 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure for every 100 mmol decrease in daily sodium intake). For hypertensive patients, the effects of dietary salt restriction are most pronounced if age is greater than 44 years. A decrease of 6.3 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and 2.2 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure per 100 mmol decrease in daily sodium intake was observed in people of this age group. For hypertensive patients 44 years of age and younger, the decreases were 2.4 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure and negligible for diastolic blood pressure. A diet in which salt is moderately restricted appears not to be associated with health risks. RECOMMENDATIONS: (1) Restriction of salt intake for the normotensive population is not recommended at present, because of insufficient evidence demonstrating that this would lead to a reduced incidence of hypertension. (2) To avoid excessive intake of salt, people should be counselled to choose foods low in salt (e.g., fresh fruits and vegetables), to avoid foods high in salt (e.g., pre-prepared foods), to refrain from adding salt at the table and minimize the amount of salt used in cooking, and to increase awareness of the salt content of food choices in restaurants. (3) For hypertensive patients, particularly those over the age of 44 years, it is recommended that the intake of dietary sodium be moderately restricted, to a target range of 90-130 mmol per day (which corresponds to 3-7 g of salt per day). (4) The salt consumption of hypertensive patients should be determined by interview. VALIDATION: These recommendations were reviewed by all of the sponsoring organizations and by participants in a satellite symposium of the fourth International Conference on Preventive Cardiology. They have not been clinically tested. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC1230337  PMID: 10333851
9.  Self-reported knowledge and awareness about blood pressure and hypertension: a cross-sectional study of a random sample of men and women aged 60–74 years 
Clinical Epidemiology  2014;6:81-87.
Background
In general, it is assumed that patient education, by increasing knowledge, may change behavior and lifestyle and promote health. In this context, it is a surprise that knowledge and awareness about blood pressure and hypertension among elderly people is poor. We hypothesized that knowledge about blood pressure and hypertension would be better among individuals with self-reported hypertension compared with subjects without self-reported hypertension.
Methods
We mailed a questionnaire to a random sample of 1,000 subjects living in the municipality of Silkeborg, Denmark. The study sample was drawn from the Central Person Registry.
Results
The response rate was 72%. Of these, 43% of responders had self-reported hypertension. The people with self-reported hypertension were older, less educated, had higher self-reported blood cholesterol levels, had higher body weight, and more often had a family history of hypertension. More than 80% reported that overweight and obesity increases blood pressure. More than 60% reported that untreated hypertension may cause heart disease or stroke. More than half of the responders did not know their blood pressure, and only 21% knew that hypertension can occur without symptoms. Knowledge about hypertension was independent of self-reported hypertension status, but awareness about blood pressure was most prominent among those with self-reported hypertension.
Conclusion
General knowledge about blood pressure and hypertension was reasonable, but there is still room for improvement in elderly people’s knowledge and awareness of blood pressure.
doi:10.2147/CLEP.S53706
PMCID: PMC3933349  PMID: 24600247
self-reported hypertension; questionnaire; elderly; blood pressure
10.  Survival with Treated and Well-Controlled Blood Pressure: Findings from a Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e17792.
Aim
To compare survival and incident cardiovascular disease between normotensive, untreated hypertensive, treated and poorly-controlled hypertensive and treated and well-controlled hypertensive adults.
Methods and Results
Data from the British Regional Heart Study (men) and British Women's Heart and Health Study (women) were used (N = 6476). Blood pressure and treatment were assessed at baseline (1998–2001) when participants were aged 60–79 years and participants were followed up for a median of 8 years. Date and cause of death were obtained from death certificates and non-fatal cardiovascular disease events were obtained from repeat detailed medical record reviews. Of the whole cohort 52% of women and 49% of men had untreated hypertension and a further 22% and 18%, respectively, had poorly treated hypertension. Just 3% of women and 4% of men had treated and well controlled hypertension and 23% and 29%, respectively, were normotensive. Compared to normotensive individuals, incident cardiovascular disease (fatal and non-fatal) was increased in those with poorly-controlled hypertension (Hazard Ratio (HR): 1.88; 95%CI: 1.53, 2.30), those with untreated hypertension (HR 1.46; 95%CI 1.22, 1.75) and those who were well-controlled hypertension (HR 1.38; 95%CI 0.94, 2.03). Adjustment for baseline differences in mean blood pressure between the groups resulted in attenuation of the increased risk in the poorly-controlled (1.52 (1.18, 1.97) and untreated groups (1.21 (0.97, 1.52), but did not change the association in the well-controlled group. All-cause mortality was also increased in all three hypertension groups but estimates were imprecise with wide confidence intervals.
Conclusions
Half of women and men aged 60–79 in Britain had untreated hypertension and only a very small proportion of those with diagnosed and treated hypertension were well controlled. Those with hypertension, irrespective of whether this was treated and controlled or not, were at greater risk of future cardiovascular disease than those who are normotensive.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017792
PMCID: PMC3076376  PMID: 21533232
11.  Reduced Glomerular Filtration Rate and Its Association with Clinical Outcome in Older Patients at Risk of Vascular Events: Secondary Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(1):e1000016.
Background
Reduced glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is associated with increased cardiovascular risk in young and middle aged individuals. Associations with cardiovascular disease and mortality in older people are less clearly established. We aimed to determine the predictive value of the GFR for mortality and morbidity using data from the 5,804 participants randomized in the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER).
Methods and Findings
Glomerular filtration rate was estimated (eGFR) using the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease equation and was categorized in the ranges ([20–40], [40–50], [50–60]) ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73 m2. Baseline risk factors were analysed by category of eGFR, with and without adjustment for other risk factors. The associations between baseline eGFR and morbidity and mortality outcomes, accrued after an average of 3.2 y, were investigated using Cox proportional hazard models adjusting for traditional risk factors. We tested for evidence of an interaction between the benefit of statin treatment and baseline eGFR status. Age, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, C-reactive protein (CRP), body mass index, fasting glucose, female sex, histories of hypertension and vascular disease were associated with eGFR (p = 0.001 or less) after adjustment for other risk factors. Low eGFR was independently associated with risk of all cause mortality, vascular mortality, and other noncancer mortality and with fatal and nonfatal coronary and heart failure events (hazard ratios adjusted for CRP and other risk factors (95% confidence intervals [CIs]) for eGFR < 40 ml/min/1.73m2 relative to eGFR ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73m2 respectively 2.04 (1.48–2.80), 2.37 (1.53–3.67), 3.52 (1.78–6.96), 1.64 (1.18–2.27), 3.31 (2.03–5.41). There were no nominally statistically significant interactions (p < 0.05) between randomized treatment allocation and eGFR for clinical outcomes, with the exception of the outcome of coronary heart disease death or nonfatal myocardial infarction (p = 0.021), with the interaction suggesting increased benefit of statin treatment in subjects with impaired GFRs.
Conclusions
We have established that, in an elderly population over the age of 70 y, impaired GFR is associated with female sex, with presence of vascular disease, and with levels of other risk factors that would be associated with increased risk of vascular disease. Further, impaired GFR is independently associated with significant levels of increased risk of all cause mortality and fatal vascular events and with composite fatal and nonfatal coronary and heart failure outcomes. Our analyses of the benefits of statin treatment in relation to baseline GFR suggest that there is no reason to exclude elderly patients with impaired renal function from treatment with a statin.
Using data from the PROSPER trial, Ian Ford and colleagues investigate whether reduced glomerular filtration rate is associated with cardiovascular and mortality risk among elderly people.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a common cause of death in developed countries. In the USA, for example, the single leading cause of death is coronary heart disease, a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels slows or stops the blood supply to the heart and eventually causes a heart attack. Other types of CVD include stroke (in which narrowing of the blood vessels interrupts the brain's blood supply) and heart failure (a condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the rest of the body). Many factors increase the risk of developing CVD, including high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood cholesterol, having diabetes, smoking, and being overweight. Tools such as the “Framingham risk calculator” assess an individual's overall CVD risk by taking these and other risk factors into account. CVD risk can be minimized by taking drugs to reduce blood pressure or cholesterol levels (for example, pravastatin) and by making lifestyle changes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Another potential risk factor for CVD is impaired kidney (renal) function. In healthy people, the kidneys filter waste products and excess fluid out of the blood. A reduced “estimated glomerular filtration rate” (eGFR), which indicates impaired renal function, is associated with increased CVD in young and middle-aged people and increased all-cause and cardiovascular death in people who have vascular disease. But is reduced eGFR also associated with CVD and death in older people? If it is, it would be worth encouraging elderly people with reduced eGFR to avoid other CVD risk factors. In this study, the researchers determine the predictive value of eGFR for all-cause and vascular mortality (deaths caused by CVD) and for incident vascular events (a first heart attack, stroke, or heart failure) using data from the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER). This clinical trial examined pravastatin's effects on CVD development among 70–82 year olds with pre-existing vascular disease or an increased risk of CVD because of smoking, hypertension, or diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The trial participants were divided into four groups based on their eGFR at the start of the study. The researchers then investigated the association between baseline CVD risk factors and baseline eGFR and between baseline eGFR and vascular events and deaths that occurred during the 3-year study. Several established CVD risk factors were associated with a reduced eGFR after allowing for other risk factors. In addition, people with a low eGFR (between 20 and 40 units) were twice as likely to die from any cause as people with an eGFR above 60 units (the normal eGFR for a young person is 100 units; eGFR decreases with age) and more than three times as likely to have nonfatal coronary heart disease or heart failure. A low eGFR also increased the risk of vascular mortality, other noncancer deaths, and fatal coronary heart disease and heart failure. Finally, pravastatin treatment reduced coronary heart disease deaths and nonfatal heart attacks most effectively among participants with the greatest degree of eGFR impairment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, in elderly people, impaired renal function is associated with levels of established CVD risk factors that increase the risk of vascular disease. They also suggest that impaired kidney function increases the risk of all-cause mortality, fatal vascular events, and fatal and nonfatal coronary heat disease and heart failure. Because the study participants were carefully chosen for inclusion in PROSPER, these findings may not be generalizable to all elderly people with vascular disease or vascular disease risk factors. Nevertheless, increased efforts should probably be made to encourage elderly people with reduced eGFR and other vascular risk factors to make lifestyle changes to reduce their overall CVD risk. Finally, although the effect of statins in elderly patients with renal dysfunction needs to be examined further, these findings suggest that this group of patients should benefit at least as much from statins as elderly patients with healthy kidneys.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000016.
The MedlinePlus Encyclopedia has pages on coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on heart disease, vascular disease, and stroke (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides information on how the kidneys work and what can go wrong with them, including a list of links to further information about kidney disease
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease for patients, caregivers, and professionals (in several languages)
More information about PROSPER is available on the Web site of the Vascular Biochemistry Department of the University of Glasgow
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000016
PMCID: PMC2628400  PMID: 19166266
12.  Modifiable Etiological Factors and the Burden of Stroke from the Rotterdam Study: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001634.
Using data from the Rotterdam study, Michiel Bos and colleagues estimate the proportion of strokes that are attributable to established modifiable etiological factors for stroke.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Stroke prevention requires effective treatment of its causes. Many etiological factors for stroke have been identified, but the potential gain of effective intervention on these factors in terms of numbers of actually prevented strokes remains unclear because of the lack of data from cohort studies. We assessed the impact of currently known potentially modifiable etiological factors on the occurrence of stroke.
Methods and Findings
This population-based cohort study was based on 6,844 participants of the Rotterdam Study who were aged ≥55 y and free from stroke at baseline (1990–1993). We computed population attributable risks (PARs) for individual risk factors and for risk factors in combination to estimate the proportion of strokes that could theoretically be prevented by the elimination of etiological factors from the population.
The mean age at baseline was 69.4 y (standard deviation 6.3 y). During follow-up (mean follow-up 12.9 y, standard deviation 6.3 y), 1,020 strokes occurred. The age- and sex-adjusted combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation, coronary disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 (95% CI 0.41–0.62) for any stroke; hypertension and smoking were the most important etiological factors. C-reactive protein, fruit and vegetable consumption, and carotid intima-media thickness in combination raised the total PAR by 0.06. The PAR was 0.55 (95% CI 0.41–0.68) for ischemic stroke and 0.70 (95% CI 0.45–0.87) for hemorrhagic stroke.
The main limitations of our study are that our study population comprises almost exclusively Caucasians who live in a middle and high income area, and that risk factor awareness is higher in a study cohort than in the general population.
Conclusions
About half of all strokes are attributable to established causal and modifiable factors. This finding encourages not only intervention on established etiological factors, but also further study of less well established factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people worldwide have a stroke. About 6 million of these people die within hours, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help overcome the disabilities caused by stroke, and various drugs alongside behavioral counselling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Fifty years ago, it was discovered that treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension) reduces the risk of stroke among people with severe hypertension. This discovery led researchers to search for other potentially modifiable etiological factors for stroke (risk factors that cause stroke). The list of established etiological factors now includes smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), heart disease, and overweight/obesity, in addition to hypertension. But how many strokes would modification of these causal risk factors prevent? In this population-based cohort study, the researchers calculate the individual and combined population attributable risks (PARs) for these established etiological factors to provide an estimate of what proportion of strokes could theoretically be prevented by optimal treatment of known etiological factors. A population-based cohort study enrolls a group of people, determines their characteristics at baseline, and follows them to see whether specific characteristics are associated with specific outcomes. A PAR of an etiological factor for a disease indicates the proportion of that disease in the population that would not occur in the absence of the risk factor.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from 6,844 participants in the Rotterdam Study, which was designed to investigate the causes and consequences of long-term and disabling diseases in the elderly. At baseline, all of the participants were over 55 years old and free from stroke. During follow-up, 1,020 strokes occurred among the participants. Using data on exposure at baseline to various etiological factors for stroke, the researchers calculated PARs for individual factors and used a special statistical technique to calculate PARs for the factors in combination. The combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 for any stroke. That is, about half of the strokes in the study population were attributable to this combination of etiological factors. Hypertension and smoking were the most important individual factors (PARs of 0.36 and 0.16, respectively). Notably, the inclusion of several less well established etiological factors (increased blood levels of C-reactive protein, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and thickening of the lining of arteries) only raised the total PAR for any stroke by 0.06.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that about half of the strokes in the study cohort were attributable to established modifiable etiological factors and could theoretically be prevented by eliminating these risk factors from the population. Previous studies have estimated that a larger proportion of strokes could be prevented by eliminating known etiological factors. The researchers acknowledge that some aspects of their study may have led to an underestimation of the proportion of stroke attributable to established etiological factors and note that their findings may not be generalizable to underprivileged or racially diverse populations. Nevertheless, they argue that previous studies are likely to have overestimated the PARs for stroke because they were based on case–control studies (in which exposure to etiological factors was assessed after a stroke had occurred in cases and control individuals, rather than before a stroke as in a population-based cohort study) and often did not use optimal statistical techniques to calculate the total PAR. Importantly, these new findings underscore the importance of interventions targeted at reducing smoking and hypertension and support the search for additional etiological factors for stroke.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Rotterdam Study is available
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634
PMCID: PMC4004543  PMID: 24781247
13.  Quality of life in peptic ulcer patients referring to Al-Zahra hospital of Isfahan, Iran 
Aim
The purpose of this study was to determine quality of life in peptic ulcer patients referring to Al-Zahra hospital of Isfahan.
Background
Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is one of the most prevalent diseases. Its prevalence is 6-15% and about 10% of people experience its symptom in their life. PUD can have a considerable impact on patients’ quality of life (QOL).
Patients and methods
This descriptive- analytic survey was done on 93 randomly patients referred to Al-Zahra hospital of Isfahan city in Iran. Data gathering was done via questionnaire including five domains: physical, psychological, social, behavioral and economical. For data analysis, t-test, Pearson correlation and ANOVA test were used.
Results
93 patients with mean age of 38.54 years, including 43 (46.2%) women and 54 (53.8%) men, were studied. There was a negative significant between quality of life and age and between disease duration and psychological, economical domains and between the mean of QOL scores in physical and social domains with the number of cigarette per day, also there was significant relation between social domain and gender, and physical, psychological and behavioral domains with marital status; Physical, social domains with smoking. Also there was a negative significant between physical, social and behavioral domains with years of smoking.
Conclusion
Study results showed that quality of life is in a relatively good level among patients, thus some diseases such as peptic ulcer can effect on quality of life. So, treatment and prevention of these diseases may improve their quality of life.
PMCID: PMC4017537  PMID: 24834294
Quality of life; Peptic ulcer; Patients
14.  Safety analysis of tooth extraction in elderly patients with cardiovascular diseases 
Background
This study aimed to evaluate the safety of tooth extraction in elderly patients with cardiovascular diseases.
Material/Methods
A total of 13 527 patients underwent tooth extraction at the Affiliated Ninth People’s Hospital of Shanghai Jiaotong University. Age, sex, and diseases were analyzed. Cardiac monitoring during tooth extraction was performed in 7077 elderly patients with hypertension and other chronic diseases, and the influence of various factors on safety of tooth extraction was evaluated. Additionally, 89 patients with primary hypertension were recruited, and electrocardiogram was monitored with a general monitor or a Holter monitor, and the detection rate of cardiovascular events was compared between the 2 groups.
Results
The elderly accounted from 75.3%, and patients aged 70–79 years had highest proportion. The most frequent comorbidities were hypertension, coronary heart disease, arrhythmia, cerebrovascular accident, and diabetes. In analysis of factors influencing the safety of tooth extraction in the elderly, a significant difference was noted in systolic blood pressure at different time points. In addition, change in heart rate was different between males and females. Detection rate of cardiovascular events by use of a Holter monitor was significantly higher than with a general monitor.
Conclusions
Hypertension was the most common comorbidity in elderly patients undergoing tooth extraction, followed by coronary heart disease and arrhythmia. Advanced age and increased comorbidity may increase the risk of complications. Risk score can be used to rapidly determine risk for complications during tooth extraction. The Holter monitor is superior to the general monitor in identifying cardiovascular events in high-risk elderly patients undergoing tooth extraction, and can be used in this population.
doi:10.12659/MSM.890131
PMCID: PMC4031223  PMID: 24819043
Tooth Extraction; Dental Care for Aged; Cardiovascular Diseases
15.  Preeclampsia as a Risk Factor for Diabetes: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(4):e1001425.
Denice Feig and colleagues assess the association between gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia and the development of future diabetes in a database analysis of pregnant women in Ontario, Canada.
Background
Women with preeclampsia (PEC) and gestational hypertension (GH) exhibit insulin resistance during pregnancy, independent of obesity and glucose intolerance. Our aim was to determine whether women with PEC or GH during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing diabetes after pregnancy, and whether the presence of PEC/GH in addition to gestational diabetes (GDM) increases the risk of future (postpartum) diabetes.
Methods and Findings
We performed a population-based, retrospective cohort study for 1,010,068 pregnant women who delivered in Ontario, Canada between April 1994 and March 2008. Women were categorized as having PEC alone (n = 22,933), GH alone (n = 27,605), GDM alone (n = 30,852), GDM+PEC (n = 1,476), GDM+GH (n = 2,100), or none of these conditions (n = 925,102). Our main outcome was a new diagnosis of diabetes postpartum in the following years, up until March 2011, based on new records in the Ontario Diabetes Database. The incidence rate of diabetes per 1,000 person-years was 6.47 for women with PEC and 5.26 for GH compared with 2.81 in women with neither of these conditions. In the multivariable analysis, both PEC alone (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.08; 95% CI 1.97–2.19) and GH alone (HR = 1.95; 95% CI 1.83–2.07) were risk factors for subsequent diabetes. Women with GDM alone were at elevated risk of developing diabetes postpartum (HR = 12.77; 95% CI 12.44–13.10); however, the co–presence of PEC or GH in addition to GDM further elevated this risk (HR = 15.75; 95% CI 14.52–17.07, and HR = 18.49; 95% CI 17.12–19.96, respectively). Data on obesity were not available.
Conclusions
Women with PEC/GH have a 2-fold increased risk of developing diabetes when followed up to 16.5 years after pregnancy, even in the absence of GDM. The presence of PEC/GH in the setting of GDM also raised the risk of diabetes significantly beyond that seen with GDM alone. A history of PEC/GH during pregnancy should alert clinicians to the need for preventative counseling and more vigilant screening for diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar), known as type 1 diabetes, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces—type 2 diabetes. Raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious complications and even death. Worryingly, the global burden of type 2 diabetes is increasing worldwide, and the World Health Organization estimates that 90% of the 347 million people with diabetes currently have type 2 diabetes. Previous studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed in high risk groups by a range of lifestyle and treatment interventions and so it is important to identify potential high risk groups to screen for type 2 diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Gestational diabetes (a form of diabetes that is related to pregnancy) is a major risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes. Therefore, diabetes prevention strategies should target women with gestational diabetes. Likewise, other common disorders of pregnancy possibly associated with insulin resistance, such as preeclampsia (a condition in which affected women have high blood pressure, fluid retention, and protein in their urine) and gestational hypertension (high blood pressure associated with pregnancy), may lead to the future development of type 2 diabetes. So women with these conditions may also benefit from diabetes prevention strategies. Therefore, in this large database study from Ontario, Canada, the researchers examined whether pregnant women with preeclampsia or gestational hypertension had an increased risk of developing diabetes in the years following pregnancy even if they did not have gestational diabetes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a comprehensive Canadian health database to identify all women age 15 to 50 years of age who delivered in an Ontario hospital between April 1994 and March 2008. They then identified women who had preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or gestational diabetes through hospital records and outpatient information. The researchers then used records from the Ontario Diabetes Database to record whether these women went on to develop diabetes in the period from 180 days after delivery until March 2011.
Using these methods, the researchers identified 1,010,068 pregnant women suitable for analysis, of whom 22,933 had only preeclampsia, 27,605 had only gestational hypertension, and 30,852 had only gestational diabetes: 2,100 women had both gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension and 1,476 women had gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. Overall, 35,077 women developed diabetes (3.5%) in the follow-up period (median of 8.5 years) at a median age of 37 years. In a modeling analysis, the researchers found that women with gestational diabetes had a 15-fold increased rate of developing diabetes compared to women without gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia, while women with gestational diabetes plus either preeclampsia or gestational hypertension had a 20- to 21-fold increased rate. These results were slightly reduced after adjusting for age, income quintile, hypertension prior to pregnancy, and co-morbidity, giving a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.95 for gestational hypertension alone, an HR of 2.08 for preeclampsia alone, an HR of 12.77 for gestational diabetes alone, an HR of 18.49 for gestational diabetes plus gestational hypertension and finally, an HR of 15.75 for gestational diabetes plus preeclampsia.
These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that both preeclampsia and gestational hypertension without gestational diabetes are associated with a 2-fold increased incidence of diabetes in the years following pregnancy after controlling for several important variables. When combined with gestational diabetes, these conditions were associated with a further elevation in diabetes incidence additional to the 13-fold increased incidence resulting from gestational diabetes alone. A limitation of this study was the lack of information on obesity and body mass index, factors which are also associated with increased risk of developing diabetes. Nevertheless, these findings highlight a possible new risk factor for diabetes, and suggest that clinicians should be aware of the need for preventative measures and vigilant screening for diabetes in women with a history of preeclampsia or gestational hypertension.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001425.
NHS Choices has information about preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and gestational hypertension
Living with diabetes is a useful resource for patients with diabetes
The Preeclampsia Foundation has more information about preeclampsia
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001425
PMCID: PMC3627640  PMID: 23610560
16.  Associations between Active Travel to Work and Overweight, Hypertension, and Diabetes in India: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001459.
Using data from the Indian Migration Study, Christopher Millett and colleagues examine the associations between active travel to work and overweight, hypertension, and diabetes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Increasing active travel (walking, bicycling, and public transport) is promoted as a key strategy to increase physical activity and reduce the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) globally. Little is known about patterns of active travel or associated cardiovascular health benefits in low- and middle-income countries. This study examines mode and duration of travel to work in rural and urban India and associations between active travel and overweight, hypertension, and diabetes.
Methods and Findings
Cross-sectional study of 3,902 participants (1,366 rural, 2,536 urban) in the Indian Migration Study. Associations between mode and duration of active travel and cardiovascular risk factors were assessed using random-effect logistic regression models adjusting for age, sex, caste, standard of living, occupation, factory location, leisure time physical activity, daily fat intake, smoking status, and alcohol use. Rural dwellers were significantly more likely to bicycle (68.3% versus 15.9%; p<0.001) to work than urban dwellers. The prevalence of overweight or obesity was 50.0%, 37.6%, 24.2%, 24.9%; hypertension was 17.7%, 11.8%, 6.5%, 9.8%; and diabetes was 10.8%, 7.4%, 3.8%, 7.3% in participants who travelled to work by private transport, public transport, bicycling, and walking, respectively. In the adjusted analysis, those walking (adjusted risk ratio [ARR] 0.72; 95% CI 0.58–0.88) or bicycling to work (ARR 0.66; 95% CI 0.55–0.77) were significantly less likely to be overweight or obese than those travelling by private transport. Those bicycling to work were significantly less likely to have hypertension (ARR 0.51; 95% CI 0.36–0.71) or diabetes (ARR 0.65; 95% CI 0.44–0.95). There was evidence of a dose-response relationship between duration of bicycling to work and being overweight, having hypertension or diabetes. The main limitation of the study is the cross-sectional design, which limits causal inference for the associations found.
Conclusions
Walking and bicycling to work was associated with reduced cardiovascular risk in the Indian population. Efforts to increase active travel in urban areas and halt declines in rural areas should be integral to strategies to maintain healthy weight and prevent NCDs in India.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and obesity (excessive body fat) are major threats to global health. Every year, more than 36 million people (including 29 million in LMICs) die from NCDs—nearly two-thirds of the world's annual deaths. Cardiovascular diseases (conditions that affect the heart and the circulation), diabetes, cancer, and respiratory diseases are responsible for most NCD-related deaths. Obesity is a risk factor for all these NCDs and the global prevalence of obesity (the proportion of the world's population that is obese) has nearly doubled since 1980. In 2008, 35% of adults were overweight and 11% were obese. One reason for the growing burden of both obesity and NCDs is increasing physical inactivity. Regular physical activity helps to maintain a healthy body weight and to prevent or delay the onset of NCDs. For an adult, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity—walking briskly or cycling, for example—five times a week is sufficient to promote and maintain health. But the daily lives of people in both developed and developing countries are becoming increasingly sedentary and, nowadays, at least 60% of the world's population does not do even this modest amount of exercise.
Why Was This Study Done?
Strategies to increase physical activity levels often promote active travel (walking, cycling, and using public transport). The positive impact of active travel on physical activity levels and cardiovascular health is well established in high-income countries, but little is known about the patterns of active travel or the health benefits associated with active travel in poorer countries. In this cross-sectional study (an investigation that measures population characteristics at a single time point), the researchers examine the mode and duration of travel to work in rural and urban India and associations between active travel and overweight/obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease), and diabetes. In India, a lower middle-income country, the prevalence of overweight and NCDs is projected to increase rapidly over the next two decades. Moreover, rapid unplanned urbanization and a large increase in registered motor vehicles has resulted in inadequate development of the public transport infrastructure and hazardous conditions for walking and cycling in most Indian towns and cities.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
For their study, researchers analyzed physical activity and health data collected from participants in the Indian Migration Study, which examined the association between migration from rural to urban areas and obesity and diabetes risk. People living in rural areas were more likely to cycle to work than people living in towns and cities (68.3% versus 15.9%). Among people who travelled to work by private transport, public transport, walking, and cycling, the prevalence of overweight or obesity was 50.0%, 37.6%, 24.9%, and 24.2%, respectively. Similar patterns were seen for the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes. After adjustment for factors that affect the risk of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes (for example, daily fat intake and leisure time physical activity), people walking or cycling to work were less likely to be overweight or obese than those travelling by public transport, and those cycling to walk were less likely to have hypertension or diabetes. Finally, people with long cycle rides to work had a lower risk of being overweight or having hypertension or diabetes than people with short cycle rides.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that, as in high-income settings, walking and cycling to work are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in India. Because this was a cross-sectional study, these findings do not prove that active travel reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease—people who cycle to work may share other unknown characteristics that are actually responsible for their reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, this study did not consider non-cardiovascular outcomes associated with active travel that might affect health such as increased exposure to air pollution. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that programs designed to maintain healthy weight and prevent NCDs in India should endeavor to increase active travel in urban areas and to halt declines in rural areas by, for example, increasing investment in public transport and improving the safety and convenience of walking and cycling routes in urban areas.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001459.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Kavi Bhalla
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of healthy living, on chronic diseases and health promotion, on overweight and obesity and on non-communicable diseases around the world; its Physical Activity for Everyone web pages include guidelines, instructional videos and personal success stories (some information in English and Spanish)
The World Health Organization provides information about physical activity and health, about obesity, and about non-communicable diseases (in several languages); its 2010 Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health are available in several languages; its Global Noncommunicable Disease Network (NCDnet) aims to help low- and middle- income countries reduce NCD-related illnesses and death through implementation of the 20082013 Action Plan for the Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases (also available in French); Face to face with chronic diseases is a selection of personal stories from around the world about dealing with NCDs
The American Heart Association provides information on many important risk factors for non-communicable diseases and provides tips for becoming more active
Information about the Indian Migration Study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001459
PMCID: PMC3679004  PMID: 23776412
17.  The 2010 Canadian Hypertension Education Program recommendations for the management of hypertension: Part 2 – therapy 
OBJECTIVE:
To update the evidence-based recommendations for the prevention and treatment of hypertension in adults for 2010.
OPTIONS AND OUTCOMES:
For lifestyle and pharmacological interventions, randomized trials and systematic reviews of trials were preferentially reviewed. Changes in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality were the primary outcomes of interest. However, for lifestyle interventions, blood pressure lowering was accepted as a primary outcome given the general lack of long-term morbidity and mortality data in this field. Progressive renal impairment was also accepted as a clinically relevant primary outcome among patients with chronic kidney disease.
EVIDENCE:
A Cochrane Collaboration librarian conducted an independent MEDLINE search from 2008 to August 2009 to update the 2009 recommendations. To identify additional studies, reference lists were reviewed and experts were contacted. All relevant articles were reviewed and appraised independently by both content and methodological experts using prespecified levels of evidence.
RECOMMENDATIONS:
For lifestyle modifications to prevent and treat hypertension, restrict dietary sodium to 1500 mg (65 mmol) per day in adults 50 years of age or younger, to 1300 mg (57 mmol) per day in adults 51 to 70 years of age, and to 1200 mg (52 mmol) per day in adults older than 70 years of age; perform 30 min to 60 min of moderate aerobic exercise four to seven days per week; maintain a healthy body weight (body mass index 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2) and waist circumference (less than 102 cm for men and less than 88 cm for women); limit alcohol consumption to no more than 14 standard drinks per week for men or nine standard drinks per week for women; follow a diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, dietary and soluble fibre, whole grains and protein from plant sources, and that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol; and consider stress management in selected individuals with hypertension.
For the pharmacological management of hypertension, treatment thresholds and targets should be predicated on the patient’s global atherosclerotic risk, target organ damage and comorbid conditions. Blood pressure should be decreased to less than 140/90 mmHg in all patients, and to less than 130/80 mmHg in patients with diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease. Most patients will require more than one agent to achieve these target blood pressures. Antihypertensive therapy should be considered in all adult patients regardless of age (caution should be exercised in elderly patients who are frail). For adults without compelling indications for other agents, considerations for initial therapy should include thiazide diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (in patients who are not black), long-acting calcium channel blockers (CCBs), angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) or beta-blockers (in those younger than 60 years of age). A combination of two first-line agents may also be considered as initial treatment of hypertension if systolic blood pressure is 20 mmHg above target or if diastolic blood pressure is 10 mmHg above target. The combination of ACE inhibitors and ARBs should not be used, unless compelling indications are present to suggest consideration of dual therapy.
Agents appropriate for first-line therapy for isolated systolic hypertension include thiazide diuretics, long-acting dihydropyridine CCBs or ARBs. In patients with coronary artery disease, ACE inhibitors, ARBs or beta-blockers are recommended as first-line therapy; in patients with cerebrovascular disease, an ACE inhibitor/diuretic combination is preferred; in patients with proteinuric nondiabetic chronic kidney disease, ACE inhibitors or ARBs (if intolerant to ACE inhibitors) are recommended; and in patients with diabetes mellitus, ACE inhibitors or ARBs (or, in patients without albuminuria, thiazides or dihydropyridine CCBs) are appropriate first-line therapies. In selected high-risk patients in whom combination therapy is being considered, an ACE inhibitor plus a long-acting dihydropyridine CCB is preferable to an ACE inhibitor plus a thiazide diuretic. All hypertensive patients with dyslipidemia should be treated using the thresholds, targets and agents outlined in the Canadian lipid treatment guidelines. Selected patients with hypertension who do not achieve thresholds for statin therapy, but who are otherwise at high risk for cardiovascular events, should nonetheless receive statin therapy. Once blood pressure is controlled, low-dose acetylsalicylic acid therapy should be considered.
VALIDATION:
All recommendations were graded according to the strength of the evidence and voted on by the 63 members of the Canadian Hypertension Education Program Evidence-Based Recommendations Task Force. All recommendations reported here achieved at least 80% consensus. These guidelines will continue to be updated annually.
SPONSORS:
The Canadian Hypertension Education Program process is sponsored by the Canadian Hypertension Society, Blood Pressure Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Canadian Pharmacists Association, the Canadian Council of Cardiovascular Nurses, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC2886555  PMID: 20485689
Antihypertensive drugs; Blood pressure; Guidelines; High blood pressure; Hypertension; Lifestyle interventions
18.  Alcohol Intake and Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review Implementing a Mendelian Randomization Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(3):e52.
Background
Alcohol has been reported to be a common and modifiable risk factor for hypertension. However, observational studies are subject to confounding by other behavioural and sociodemographic factors, while clinical trials are difficult to implement and have limited follow-up time. Mendelian randomization can provide robust evidence on the nature of this association by use of a common polymorphism in aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) as a surrogate for measuring alcohol consumption. ALDH2 encodes a major enzyme involved in alcohol metabolism. Individuals homozygous for the null variant (*2*2) experience adverse symptoms when drinking alcohol and consequently drink considerably less alcohol than wild-type homozygotes (*1*1) or heterozygotes. We hypothesise that this polymorphism may influence the risk of hypertension by affecting alcohol drinking behaviour.
Methods and Findings
We carried out fixed effect meta-analyses of the ALDH2 genotype with blood pressure (five studies, n = 7,658) and hypertension (three studies, n = 4,219) using studies identified via systematic review. In males, we obtained an overall odds ratio of 2.42 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.66–3.55, p = 4.8 × 10−6) for hypertension comparing *1*1 with *2*2 homozygotes and an odds ratio of 1.72 (95% CI 1.17–2.52, p = 0.006) comparing heterozygotes (surrogate for moderate drinkers) with *2*2 homozygotes. Systolic blood pressure was 7.44 mmHg (95% CI 5.39–9.49, p = 1.1 × 10−12) greater among *1*1 than among *2*2 homozygotes, and 4.24 mmHg (95% CI 2.18–6.31, p = 0.00005) greater among heterozygotes than among *2*2 homozygotes.
Conclusions
These findings support the hypothesis that alcohol intake has a marked effect on blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
Using a mendelian randomization approach Sarah Lewis and colleagues find strong support for the hypothesis that alcohol intake has a marked effect on blood pressure and the risk of hypertension.
Editors' Summary
Background.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common medical condition that affects nearly a third of US and UK adults. Hypertension has no symptoms but can lead to heart attacks or strokes. It is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure—the force that blood moving around the body exerts on the inside of large blood vessels. Blood pressure is highest when the heart is pumping out blood (systolic pressure) and lowest when it is filling up with blood (diastolic pressure). Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure of less than 130 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and a diastolic pressure of less than 85 mmHg (a blood pressure of 130/85). A reading of more than 140/90 indicates hypertension. Many factors affect blood pressure, but overweight people and individuals who eat too much salty or fatty foods are at high risk of developing hypertension. Mild hypertension can often be corrected by lifestyle changes, but many people also take antihypertensive drugs to reduce their blood pressure.
Why Was This Study Done?
Another modifiable lifestyle factor thought to affect blood pressure is alcohol intake. Observational studies that ask people about their drinking habits and measure their blood pressure suggest that alcohol intake correlates with blood pressure, but they cannot prove a causal link because of “confounding”—other risk factors associated with alcohol drinking, such as diet, might also affect the study participant's blood pressures. A trial that randomly assigns people to different alcohol intakes could provide this proof of causality, but such a trial is impractical. In this study, therefore, the researchers have used “Mendelian randomization” to investigate whether alcohol intake affects blood pressure. An inactive variant of aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2; the enzyme that removes alcohol from the body) has been identified. People who inherit the variant form of this gene from both parents have an ALDH2 *2*2 genotype (genetic makeup) and become flushed and nauseated after drinking. Consequently, they drink less than people with a *1*2 genotype and much less than those with a *1*1 genotype. Because inheritance of these genetic variants does not affect lifestyle factors other than alcohol intake, an association between ALDH2 genotypes and blood pressure would indicate that alcohol intake has an effect on blood pressure without any confounding.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified ten published studies (mainly done in Japan where the ALDH2 gene variant is common) on associations between ALDH2 genotype and blood pressure or hypertension using a detailed search protocol (a “systematic review”). A meta-analysis (a statistical method for combining the results of independent studies) of the studies that had investigated the association between ALDH2 genotype and hypertension showed that men with the *1*1 genotype (highest alcohol intake) and those with the *1*2 genotype (intermediate alcohol intake) were 2.42 and 1.72 times more likely, respectively, to have hypertension than those with the *2*2 genotype (lowest alcohol intake). There was no association between ALDH2 genotype and hypertension among the women in these studies because they drank very little. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures showed a similar relationship to ALDH2 genotype in a second meta-analysis of relevant studies. Finally, the researchers estimated that for men the lifetime effect of drinking 1 g of alcohol a day (one unit of alcohol contains 8 g of alcohol in the UK and 14 g in the US; recommended daily limits in these countries are 3–4 and 1–2 units, respectively) would be an increase in systolic blood pressure of 0.24 mmHg.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings support the suggestion that alcohol has a marked effect on blood pressure and hypertension. Consequently, some cases of hypertension could be prevented by encouraging people to reduce their daily alcohol intake. Although the Mendelian randomization approach avoids most of the confounding intrinsic to observational studies, it is possible that a gene near ALDH2 that has no effect on alcohol intake affects blood pressure, since genes are often inherited in blocks. Alternatively, ALDH2 could affect blood pressure independent of alcohol intake. The possibility that ALDH2 could effect blood pressure independently of alcohol is intake made unlikely by the fact that no effect of genotype on blood pressure is seen among women who drink very little. Additional large-scale studies are needed to address these possibilities, to confirm the current finding in more people, and to improve the estimates of the effect that alcohol intake has on blood pressure.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050052.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on hypertension (in English and Spanish)
The American Heart Association provides information for patients and health professionals about hypertension
The UK Blood Pressure Association provides information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of hypertension, including information about alcohol affects blood pressure
The Explore@Bristol science center (a UK charity) provides an alcohol unit calculator and information on the effects of alcohol
The International Center for Alcohol Policies provides drinking guidelines for countries around the world
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050052
PMCID: PMC2265305  PMID: 18318597
19.  Lifestyle modifications to prevent and control hypertension. 6. Recommendations on potassium, magnesium and calcium. Canadian Hypertension Society, Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada 
OBJECTIVE: To provide updated, evidence-based recommendations on the consumption, through diet, and supplementation of the cations potassium, magnesium and calcium for the prevention and treatment of hypertension in otherwise healthy adults (except pregnant women). OPTIONS: Dietary supplementation with cations has been suggested as an alternative or adjunctive therapy to antihypertensive medications. Other options include other nonpharmacologic treatments for hypertension. OUTCOMES: The health outcomes considered were changes in blood pressure and in morbidity and mortality rates. Because of insufficient evidence, no economic outcomes were considered. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search was conducted for the period 1966-1996 with the terms hypertension and potassium, magnesium and calcium. Reports of trials, meta-analyses and review articles were obtained. Other relevant evidence was obtained from the reference lists of articles identified, from the personal files of the authors and through contacts with experts. The articles were reviewed, classified according to study design, and graded according to the level of evidence. VALUES: A high value was placed on the avoidance of cardiovascular morbidity and premature death caused by untreated hypertension. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: The weight of the evidence from randomized controlled trials indicates that increasing intake of or supplementing the diet with potassium, magnesium or calcium is not associated with prevention of hypertension, nor is it effective in reducing high blood pressure. Potassium supplementation may be effective in reducing blood pressure in patients with hypokalemia during diuretic therapy. RECOMMENDATIONS: For the prevention of hypertension, the following recommendations are made: (1) The daily dietary intake of potassium should be 60 mmol or more, because this level of intake has been associated with a reduced risk of stroke-related mortality. (2) For normotensive people obtaining on average 60 mmol of potassium daily through dietary intake, potassium supplementation is not recommended as a means of preventing an increase in blood pressure. (3) For normotensive people, magnesium supplementation is not recommended as a means of preventing an increase in blood pressure. (4) For normotensive people, calcium supplementation above the recommended daily intake is not recommended as a means of preventing an increase in blood pressure. For the treatment of hypertension, the following recommendations are made. (5) Potassium supplementation above the recommended daily dietary intake of 60 mmol is not recommended as a treatment for hypertension. (6) Magnesium supplementation is not recommended as a treatment for hypertension. (7) Calcium supplementation above the recommended daily dietary intake is not recommended as a treatment for hypertension. VALIDATION: These guidelines are consistent with the results of meta-analyses and recommendations made by other organizations. They have not been clinically tested. SPONSORS: The Canadian Hypertension Society, the Canadian Coalition for High Blood Pressure Prevention and Control, the Laboratory Centre for Disease Control at Health Canada, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
PMCID: PMC1230338  PMID: 10333852
20.  The 2009 Canadian Hypertension Education Program recommendations for the management of hypertension: Part 2 – therapy 
OBJECTIVE:
To update the evidence-based recommendations for the prevention and management of hypertension in adults for 2009.
OPTIONS AND OUTCOMES:
For lifestyle and pharmacological interventions, evidence from randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews of trials was preferentially reviewed. Changes in cardiovascular morbidity and mortality were the primary outcomes of interest. However, for lifestyle interventions, blood pressure lowering was accepted as a primary outcome given the lack of long-term morbidity and mortality data in this field. Progression of kidney dysfunction was also accepted as a clinically relevant primary outcome among patients with chronic kidney disease.
EVIDENCE:
A Cochrane collaboration librarian conducted an independent MEDLINE search from 2007 to August 2008 to update the 2008 recommendations. To identify additional published studies, reference lists were reviewed and experts were contacted. All relevant articles were reviewed and appraised independently by both content and methodological experts using prespecified levels of evidence.
RECOMMENDATIONS:
For lifestyle modifications to prevent and treat hypertension, restrict dietary sodium to less than 2300 mg (100 mmol)/day (and 1500 mg to 2300 mg [65 mmol to 100 mmol]/day in hypertensive patients); perform 30 min to 60 min of aerobic exercise four to seven days per week; maintain a healthy body weight (body mass index 18.5 kg/m2 to 24.9 kg/m2) and waist circumference (smaller than 102 cm for men and smaller than 88 cm for women); limit alcohol consumption to no more than 14 units per week in men or nine units per week in women; follow a diet that is reduced in saturated fat and cholesterol, and that emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, dietary and soluble fibre, whole grains and protein from plant sources; and consider stress management in selected individuals with hypertension. For the pharmacological management of hypertension, treatment thresholds and targets should be predicated on by the patient’s global atherosclerotic risk, target organ damage and comorbid conditions. Blood pressure should be decreased to lower than 140/90 mmHg in all patients, and to lower than 130/80 mmHg in those with diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease. Most patients will require more than one agent to achieve these target blood pressures. Antihypertensive therapy should be considered in all adult patients regardless of age (caution should be exercised in elderly patients who are frail). For adults without compelling indications for other agents, initial therapy should include thiazide diuretics. Other agents appropriate for first-line therapy for diastolic and/or systolic hypertension include angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors (in patients who are not black), long-acting calcium channel blockers (CCBs), angiotensin receptor antagonists (ARBs) or beta-blockers (in those younger than 60 years of age). A combination of two first-line agents may also be considered as the initial treatment of hypertension if the systolic blood pressure is 20 mmHg above the target or if the diastolic blood pressure is 10 mmHg above the target. The combination of ACE inhibitors and ARBs should not be used. Other agents appropriate for first-line therapy for isolated systolic hypertension include long-acting dihydropyridine CCBs or ARBs. In patients with angina, recent myocardial infarction or heart failure, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors are recommended as first-line therapy; in patients with cerebrovascular disease, an ACE inhibitor/diuretic combination is preferred; in patients with proteinuric nondiabetic chronic kidney disease, ACE inhibitors or ARBs (if intolerant to ACE inhibitors) are recommended; and in patients with diabetes mellitus, ACE inhibitors or ARBs (or, in patients without albuminuria, thiazides or dihydropyridine CCBs) are appropriate first-line therapies. All hypertensive patients with dyslipidemia should be treated using the thresholds, targets and agents outlined in the Canadian Cardiovascular Society position statement (recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease). Selected high-risk patients with hypertension who do not achieve thresholds for statin therapy according to the position paper should nonetheless receive statin therapy. Once blood pressure is controlled, acetylsalicylic acid therapy should be considered.
VALIDATION:
All recommendations were graded according to strength of the evidence and voted on by the 57 members of the Canadian Hypertension Education Program Evidence-Based Recommendations Task Force. All recommendations reported here achieved at least 95% consensus. These guidelines will continue to be updated annually.
PMCID: PMC2707169  PMID: 19417859
Antihypertensive drugs; Blood pressure; Guidelines; High blood pressure; Hypertension; Lifestyle interventions
21.  The effect of spiritual care on spiritual health of patients with cardiac ischemia 
Background:
Spiritual well-being (SWB) of patients with cardiovascular diseases particularly in those admitted in coronary care unit (CCU) is threatened due to disease crisis. Therefore, implementing spiritual care is necessary for them. This study aimed to determine the effect of spiritual care program on SWB of patients with cardiac ischemia admitted in CCU in Al-Zahra Hospital, Isfahan, Iran.
Materials and Methods:
In a single blind randomized clinical trial, 64 ischemic patients in CCU were randomly divided into test and control groups. Spiritual care program included supportive presence, rituals and using supportive systems for 3 days. Spiritual Well-being Questionnaire were completed before and after the intervention for the both groups.
Findings:
Mean scores of SWB had no significant difference between the two groups before the intervention (p = 0.84). Mean score of existence dimension (p < 0.001) and mean total score of SWB (p < 0.001) in the test group showed a significant difference comparing before and after the intervention; however, it was not significant in the control group (p = 0.17). Mean existence dimension (p = 0.01) and mean total score SWB (p = 0.01) had a significant difference between test and control groups after the intervention; however, there was no significant difference in mean score of religious dimension between the two groups after the intervention (p = 0.25).
Conclusions:
The spiritual care program promoted the SWB of ischemic patients in existence dimension and overall score, and nurses can use these programs to promote patients’ SWB.
PMCID: PMC3696210  PMID: 23833611
Coronary artery disease; nursing; spirituality
22.  Factors associated with hypertension prevalence, unawareness and treatment among Costa Rican elderly 
BMC Public Health  2008;8:275.
Background
Reliable information on the prevalence of hypertension is crucial in the development of health policies for prevention, control, and early diagnosis of this condition. This study describes the prevalence of hypertension among Costa Rican elderly, and identifies co-factors associated with its prevalence, unawareness and treatment.
Methods
The prevalence of hypertension is estimated for the Costa Rican elderly. Measurement error is assessed, and factors associated with high blood pressure are explored. Data for this study came from a nationally representative sample of about 2,800 individuals from CRELES (Costa Rica: Longevity and Healthy Aging Study). Two blood pressure measures were collected using digital monitors. Self reports of previous diagnosis, and medications taken were also recorded as part of the study.
Results
No evidence of information bias was found among interviewers, or over time. Hypertension prevalence in elderly Costa Ricans was found to be 65% (Males = 60%, Females = 69%). Twenty-five percent of the studied population did not report previous diagnoses of hypertension, but according to our measurement they had high blood pressure. The proportion of unaware men is higher than the proportion of unaware women (32% vs. 20%). The main factors associated with hypertension are: age, being overweight or obese, and family history of hypertension. For men, current smokers are 3 times more likely to be unaware of their condition than non smokers. Both men and women are less likely to be unaware of their condition if they have a family history of hypertension. Those women who are obese, diabetic, have suffered heart disease or stroke, or have been home visited by community health workers are less likely to be unaware of their hypertension. The odds of being treated are higher in educated individuals, those with a family history of hypertension, elderly with diabetes or those who have had heart disease.
Conclusion
Sex differences in terms of hypertension prevalence, unawareness, and treatment in elderly people have been found. Despite national programs for hypertension detection and education, unawareness of hypertension remains high, particularly among elderly men. Modifiable factors identified to be associated with prevalence such as obesity and alcohol intake could be used in educational programs aimed at the detection and treatment of those individuals who have the condition.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-275
PMCID: PMC2519084  PMID: 18681969
23.  Changes in the rates of awareness, treatment and control of hypertension in Canada over the past two decades 
Background
Analyses of medication databases indicate marked increases in prescribing of antihypertensive drugs in Canada over the past decade. This study was done to examine the trends in the prevalence of hypertension and in control rates in Canada between 1992 and 2009.
Methods
Three population-based surveys, the 1986–1992 Canadian Heart Health Surveys, the 2006 Ontario Survey on the Prevalence and Control of Hypertension and the 2007–2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey, collected self-reported health information from, and measured blood pressure among, community-dwelling adults.
Results
The population prevalence of hypertension was stable between 1992 and 2009 at 19.7%–21.6%. Hypertension control improved from 13.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 10.7%–15.7%) in 1992 to 64.6% (95% CI 60.0%–69.2%) in 2009, reflecting improvements in awareness (from 56.9% [95% CI 53.1%–60.5%] in 1992 to 82.5% [95% CI 78.5%–86.0%] in 2009) and treatment (from 34.6% [95% CI 29.2%–40.0%] in 1992 to 79.0% [95% CI 71.3%–86.7%] in 2009) among people with hypertension. The size of improvements in awareness, treatment and control were similar among people who had or did not have cardiovascular comorbidities Although systolic blood pressures among patients with untreated hypertension were similar between 1992 and 2009 (ranging from 146 [95% CI 145–147] mm Hg to 148 [95% CI 144–151] mm Hg), people who did not have hypertension and patients with hypertension that was being treated showed substantially lower systolic pressures in 2009 than in 1992 (113 [95% CI 112–114] v. 117 [95% CI 117–117] mm Hg and 128 [95% CI 126–130] v. 145 [95% CI 143–147] mm Hg).
Interpretation
The prevalence of hypertension has remained stable among community-dwelling adults in Canada over the past two decades, but the rates for treatment and control of hypertension have improved markedly during this time.
doi:10.1503/cmaj.101767
PMCID: PMC3114892  PMID: 21576297
24.  Mortality in Pharmacologically Treated Older Adults with Diabetes: The Cardiovascular Health Study, 1989–2001 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e400.
Background
Diabetes mellitus (DM) confers an increased risk of mortality in young and middle-aged individuals and in women. It is uncertain, however, whether excess DM mortality continues beyond age 75 years, is related to type of hypoglycemic therapy, and whether women continue to be disproportionately affected by DM into older age.
Methods and Findings
From the Cardiovascular Health Study, a prospective study of 5,888 adults, we examined 5,372 participants aged 65 y or above without DM (91.2%), 322 with DM treated with oral hypoglycemic agents (OHGAs) (5.5%), and 194 with DM treated with insulin (3.3%). Participants were followed (1989–2001) for total, cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and non-CVD/noncancer mortality. Compared with non-DM participants, those treated with OHGAs or insulin had adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) for total mortality of 1.33 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10 to 1.62) and 2.04 (95% CI, 1.62 to 2.57); CVD mortality, 1.99 (95% CI, 1.54 to 2.57) and 2.16 (95% CI, 1.54 to 3.03); CHD mortality, 2.47 (95% CI, 1.89 to 3.24) and 2.75 (95% CI, 1.95 to 3.87); and infectious and renal mortality, 1.35 (95% CI, 0.70 to 2.59) and 6.55 (95% CI, 4.18 to 10.26), respectively. The interaction of age (65–74 y versus ≥75 y) with DM was not significant. Women treated with OHGAs had a similar HR for total mortality to men, but a higher HR when treated with insulin.
Conclusions
DM mortality risk remains high among older adults in the current era of medical care. Mortality risk and type of mortality differ between OHGA and insulin treatment. Women treated with insulin therapy have an especially high mortality risk. Given the high absolute CVD mortality in older people, those with DM warrant aggressive CVD risk factor reduction.
The negative impact on mortality of diabetes persists into old age. Elderly people with diabetes might be twice as likely to die from CVD as people without diabetes. More aggressive treatment of CVD risk factors in older patients should be considered.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Diabetes is a growing global health problem. By 2030, 300 million people worldwide may have this chronic, incurable disorder, double the current number. People with diabetes have dangerously high amounts of sugar in their blood. Blood-sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that tells cells to absorb sugar from the blood. This control fails in people with diabetes, either because they make no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or because their cells are insensitive to insulin (type 2 diabetes). Type 1 diabetes is controlled with insulin injections; type 2 diabetes is controlled with diet, exercise, and pills that reduce blood-sugar levels. Long-term complications of diabetes include kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage. Individuals with diabetes also have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)—heart problems, strokes, and poor circulation—because of damage to their blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies (investigations of disease patterns, causes, and control in populations) have indicated that diabetes increases the risk of death (mortality) from CVD in young and middle-aged people, but it is not known whether this is also true for old people. It is also not known what effect long-term treatment for diabetes has on mortality or whether the risk of death from CVD is decreasing in diabetic people as it is in the general US population. This information would help physicians provide health care and lifestyle advice to people with diabetes. In this study, the researchers have investigated mortality patterns in elderly diabetic people by looking at data collected between 1989 and 2001 by the US Cardiovascular Health Study, an observational study of nearly 6,000 people aged over 65 years (in this type of study participants are observed without imposing any specific changes to their lifestyle, behavior, medical care, or treatments).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Participants were screened at the start of the Cardiovascular Health Study for CVD and diabetes (defined as drug-treated disease), for established CVD risk factors such as high blood pressure and smoking, for recently recognized CVD risk factors (for example, subclinical CVD), and for psychosocial factors associated with diabetes that might influence mortality, such as frailty and depression. At this time, about 5% of the participants were taking oral hypoglycemic agents for diabetes and about 3% were taking insulin. During the 11-year study, 40% of the participants died. After adjusting for CVD risk factors and psychosocial factors, the researchers calculated that people treated with oral hypoglycemic agents were 1.3 times as likely to die from all causes and people treated with insulin were twice as likely to die as people without diabetes. The risk of death from CVD was about twice as high in both groups of diabetic participants as in non-diabetic participants; the risk of death from coronary heart disease was increased about 2.5-fold. These adjusted relative risks are very similar to those found in previous studies. The researchers also report that participants treated with insulin were six times more likely to die from infectious diseases or renal failure than nondiabetic participants, and women treated with insulin had a particularly high mortality risk.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the negative impact on mortality of diabetes persists into old age and that death from CVD is currently declining in both older diabetic people and nondiabetic people. In addition, they show that diabetic people treated with insulin are at a greater risk of dying relative to people without diabetes and those taking oral hypoglycemic agents. This might reflect the type of diabetes that these people had, but this was not investigated. How long participants had had diabetes was also not considered, nor how many people developed diabetes during the study. These and other limitations might mean that the reported excess mortality due to diabetes is an underestimate. Nevertheless, the estimate that elderly people with diabetes are twice as likely to die from CVD as people without diabetes is important. Many elderly people die anyway because of CVD, so this increased risk represents many more deaths than the similar increased risk in younger diabetic populations. Yet, elderly people often receive less-intensive management of CVD risk factors than younger people. The results of this study suggest that rectifying this situation could prolong the lives of many elderly people with diabetes.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030400.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on diabetes, heart disease, stroke and poor circulation
The US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases provides patient information on diabetes
Information for patients on prevention, diagnosis, and management of diabetes is available from the America Diabetes Association
Patient information is available from the American Heart Association on all aspects of heart disease, including its association with diabetes
Wikipedia pages on diabetes and cardiovascular disease (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Further information is available about the Cardiovascular Health Study
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030400
PMCID: PMC1609124  PMID: 17048978
25.  Survival in treated hypertension: follow up study after two decades 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7152):167-171.
Objective: To compare survival and cause specific mortality in hypertensive men with non-hypertensive men derived from the same random population, and to study mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular diseases in the hypertensive men in relation to effects on cardiovascular risk factors during 22-23 years of follow up.
Design: Prospective, population based observational study.
Subjects and methods: 686 hypertensive men aged 47-55 at screening compared with 6810 non-hypertensive men. The hypertensive men were having stepped care treatment with either β adrenergic blocking drugs, thiazide diuretics, or combination treatment. Mortality, morbidity, and adverse effects were registered at yearly examinations and from death certificates.
Main outcome measures: All cause mortality and cause specific mortality.
Results: Treated hypertensive men had significantly impaired probability of total survival as well as survival from coronary heart disease and stroke. All cause mortality as well as coronary heart disease and stroke mortality were very similar in hypertensive men and normotensive men during the first decade, but increased steadily thereafter despite continuous good blood pressure control. Smoking, signs of target organ damage, and high serum cholesterol levels, but not blood pressure at screening, were significantly related to the incidence of coronary heart disease during follow up. In time dependent Cox’s regression analysis, the incidence of coronary heart disease was significantly related only to serum cholesterol concentrations in the study. Cancer mortality was almost similar in treated hypertensive men (61/686, 8.9%) and non-hypertensive men (732/6810, 10.8%).
Conclusion: Treated hypertensive men had impaired survival and increased mortality from cardiovascular disease compared with non-hypertensive men of similar age. These differences were observed during the second decade of follow up. During an observation period of 22-23 years—about 15 000 patient years—hypertensive men receiving diuretics and β blockers had no increased risk of cancer or non-cardiovascular disease.
Key messages Hypertension is a prevalent (10-20%) and important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In controlled trials over 3-5 years drug treatment for hypertension prevents these complications, but little is known about long term prognosis During 20-22 years treated hypertensive men had a significantly increased mortality, especially from coronary heart disease, compared with non-hypertensive men from the same population The high incidence of myocardial infarction was related to organ damage, smoking, and cholesterol at the time of entry to the study, and to achieved serum cholesterol concentrations during follow up The poor prognosis for mortality from coronary heart disease is dependent upon strict monitoring of serum cholesterol concentrations
PMCID: PMC28606  PMID: 9665894

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