Barcelona, Spain - There's an air of impatience clouding the 2013 International Conference on Prehypertension and Cardiometabolic Syndrome. Most patients diagnosed with higher-than-optimal blood pressure will go on to develop hypertension, but there are no good data to suggest if or how this can be averted.
That frustrates experts gathered here, some of whom say they can't wait for results from ongoing clinical trials—they are proceeding with low-dose pharmacological treatment in select high-risk patients.
"If we wait for the evidence, we'll all be buried before the evidence is in," Dr Flavio Fuchs (Hospital de Clinicas de Port Alegre, Brazil) pronounced. "Four out of five prehypertensives will be hypertensive by age 60. . . . For my [prehypertensive] patients, I am offering the option of using low-dose drugs if they are close to becoming hypertensive."
Dr Stevo Julius (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) put it more bluntly: "If your brother had prehypertension, you would treat him."
But Dr Yuqing Zhang (Fu Wai Hospital, Beijing, China) pointed out that it is not just the question of drug efficacy in high-normal BP, "we also need to answer the question of cost-effectiveness, because the incidence of hard outcomes is very low in these subjects, maybe 7% per 100-person years. So much lower than in those with established hypertension—this is an area where we really need to get some answers."