• Vol. 34 No. 1, 8–15
  • 15 January 2005

Progression of Renal Failure – The Role of Hypertension



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High blood pressure plays a key role in the progression of renal failure. Hypertension is a common presentation of kidney disease and an almost invariable accompaniment of renal failure. Hypertension is also a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, the major cause of morbidity and mortality in renal failure. Hypertension is both cause and consequence of renal failure, but the precise nature and prevalence of hypertensive nephrosclerosis as a cause of renal failure remains controversial. There is strong evidence that hypertension accelerates the progression of experimental renal disease and that control of blood pressure is effective in preventing this progression. Hypertension, both accelerated and “benign” (a misnomer), has long been recognised as a poor prognostic feature in human renal disease and more recently in renal allograft survival. Blood pressure control is very effective in retarding renal disease progression. There are compelling indications for angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in both non-diabetic and type 1 diabetic nephropathies, and for angiotensin receptor blockers in type 2 diabetic nephropathy. Most patients will require combination drug therapy to control blood pressure and reduce both progression of renal failure and the associated cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Hypertension, or perhaps more accurately high blood pressure, plays a pivotal role in the progression of renal failure. The dichotomy of “hypertension” and “normotension” fails to recognise that the risks of adverse cardiovascular and renal events are directly related to increasing levels of blood pressure, even within the “normotensive” range and that blood pressure lowering may benefit high-risk patients (particularly those with renal disease) who are not “hypertensive” by conventional definition.1 “Increasingly the very terms hypertension, hyperglycaemia and hypercholesterolaemia will probably disappear, as the focus moves from treating a theoretically decided cut-off point towards managing continuous distributions of risk …”.2

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