Outcomes. Extensive data from many randonused controlled trials have shown the benefit of treating hypertension. The target blood pressure (BP) for antihypertensive management should be systolic BP < 140 mmHg, diastolic BP < 90 mmHg, with minimal or no drug side-effects. However, a lesser reduction will elicit benefit although this is not optimal. The reduction of BP in the elderly should generally be achieved gradually over 6 months. Stricter BP control is required for patients with end-organ damage, co-existing risk factors and co-morbidity, e.g. diabetes mellitus. Co-existent risk factors should also be controlled. Benefits. Reduction in risk of stroke, cardiac failure, renal insufficiency and coronary artery disease. The major precautions and contraindications to each antihypertensive drug recommended are listed. Recommendations. Correct BP measurement procedure is described. Evaluation of cardiovascular risk factors and recommendations for antihypertensive therapy are stipulated. The total cardiovascular disease risk profile should be determined for all patients and this should inform management strategies. Lifestyle modification and patient education are cornerstones in the management of every patient. Drug therapy for the patient with uncomplicated hypertension should be as follows: first line - low-dose thiazide or thiazide-like diuretics; second line - add either an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I) or a calcium channel blocker (CCB); third line - add another second-line drug not already used. In resistant hypertension where a fourth drug is needed, use either a centrally acting drug, vasodilator, alpha-blocker, or beta-blocker. The order of drug choice may change in those with compelling indications for a particular drug class. The guideline includes management of specific situations including hypertensive emergency and urgency, severe hypertension with target-organ damage and hypertension in diabetes mellitus, etc. Validity. The guideline was developed by a joint Southern African Hypertension Society and National Department of Health Directorate: Chronic Diseases, Disabilities and Geriatrics working group. Input was also obtained from representatives of the various related professional societies.
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