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Hypertension guidelines underline the importance of quantification of total cardiovascular risk; an extensive evaluation of target organ damage (TOD) may increase the number of patients classified at high-added cardiovascular risk.To assess the effect of the evaluation of different forms of TOD, in addition to ‘routine’ workup, on cardiovascular risk stratification in a general population sample in Northern Italy.In 385 patients (age 57 ± 10 years, 44% men, 64% hypertensives, 32% treated), left ventricular and carotid artery structure and carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) were measured. All patients underwent laboratory examinations. Patients were divided into risk categories according to European Society of Hypertension/European Society of Cardiology guidelines before and after TOD evaluation.After routine workup, patients were classified as follows: 6% at average cardiovascular risk, 35% at low cardiovascular risk, 25% at moderate cardiovascular risk, 33% at high cardiovascular risk and 1% at very high cardiovascular risk. The proportion of patients at low or moderate cardiovascular risk reclassified at high cardiovascular risk were 5, 14, 30 and 14% after echocardiography, measurement of albuminuria and estimated glomerular filtration rate, carotid ultrasound and PWV, respectively (χ2P < 0.001 for all vs. routine). Assessment of PWV in addition to echocardiography led to an increase of the proportion of patients at high risk (from 5 to 15%, P < 0.001), as for PWV in addition to albuminuria, estimated glomerular filtration rate or both (from 14 to 31%, P < 0.01), but did not affect risk stratification in addition to carotid ultrasound (from 30 to 34%, P = NS).Our data suggest that measurement of PWV may significantly change cardiovascular risk stratification in addition to echocardiography and to detection of albuminuria and/or of a reduction of estimated glomerular filtration rate, but not after carotid ultrasound. Our results confirm that evaluation of different forms of TOD is useful for a more accurate assessment of global cardiovascular risk.