Eyes & hypertension

Published on Aug 14, 2004 05:37 PM IST
The narrowing of blood vessels, which supply blood to the retina enhance risk of hypertension.
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PTI | ByAsian News International, Washington

The secret behind hypertension could lie in your eyes.

A new research conducted by researchers at The Center for Vision Research at the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital has revealed that the narrowing of blood vessels, which supply blood to the retina enhance the risk of hypertension.

The study suggests that people with relatively narrowed retinal arterioles ,the tiny vessels of the retina are twice as likely to develop severe hypertension in five years as people with relatively wider arterioles.

"These retinal signs appear to predict development of severe hypertension independent of other risk factors such as age, gender, body mass index, smoking, blood glucose levels, and blood pressure status at baseline," study co-author Paul Mitchell,said.

"This suggests that the risk associated with narrowed retinal arterioles adds to the risk associated with previous high blood pressure. For example, we already know that high normal blood pressure (pre-hypertenstion) or mild hypertension predicts later development of severe hypertension. At the same level of blood pressure, arteriolar narrowing signifies further risk," he added.

These findings suggest that structural microvascular changes, visible in the eye, may be an indication towards development of severe hypertension. Effective treatment for the earliest stages of hypertension might therefore need to target the microcirculation. These structural signs could also provide a more stable measure of risk than functional measures, like blood pressure, which often vary over time.

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