Development of new atherosclerotic plaque in hypertensive patients: an observational registry study from the Campania-Salute network

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Background and purpose:

Carotid atherosclerotic plaques (CAPs) can develop despite appropriate antihypertensive therapy. In this observational study, we assessed characteristics associated with risk of incident CAP in a large hypertensive registry.


We evaluated 2143 hypertensive patients without evidence of CAP. Incident CAP was censored at the time of the first ultrasound control in which CAP was detected. CAP was defined according to European Society of Hypertension/European Society of Cardiology guidelines.


At a median follow-up period of 56.6 months, about one-third of patients (32%; N = 688) exhibited new CAP. Those patients were older, more frequently smokers, diabetic, more often with metabolic syndrome, chronic kidney disease (CKD), longer hypertension history, higher baseline SBP, pulse pressure (PP), fasting glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides, greater left ventricular mass index, higher PP/stroke index ratio and carotid intima–media thickness (IMT; all P < 0.05). In-treatment BP control was similar in both groups. In multivariable Cox regression, CAP was predicted by older age, diabetes, smoking habit, CKD and higher value of initial IMT (all P < 0.02), independently of BP control during follow-up, antihypertensive therapy and other confounders.


In this registry of treated hypertensive patients, after adjusting for age and other confounders, risk of incident CAP did not depend on BP control and type of antihypertensive therapy, whereas it was independently related to the magnitude of initial IMT, independently of significant effect of prevalent diabetes and smoking habit. These findings suggest that antihypertensive treatment strategy to stop progression of cardiovascular disease might be difficult to achieve, once target organ damage is established.

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