Hypertensive retinopathy signs as risk indicators of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Hypertensive retinopathy has long been regarded as a risk indicator for systemic morbidity and mortality. New population-based studies show that hypertensive retinopathy signs are strongly associated with blood pressure, but inconsistently associated with cholesterol and other risk factors of atherosclerosis. Mild hypertensive retinopathy signs, such as generalized and focal retinal arteriolar narrowing and arteriovenous nicking, are weakly associated with systemic vascular diseases. Moderate hypertensive retinopathy signs, such as isolated microaneurysms, haemorrhages and cotton-wool spots, are strongly associated with subclinical cerebrovascular disease and predict incident clinical stroke, congestive heart failure and cardiovascular mortality, independent of blood pressure and other traditional risk factors. These data support the concept that an assessment of retinal vascular changes may provide further information for vascular risk stratification in persons with hypertension.
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