Hypertension has long been recognised as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, especially stroke. The recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report which examined the major risk factors for global disease identified hypertension as one of the most important causes of the disease burden of developed and developing nations. Importantly, hypertension is easy to detect and amenable to treatment, there- by providing an enormous opportunity to impact favourably on this aspect of global disease risk.
Moreover, the evidence base supporting the treatment of hypertension is more extensive than any other in medicine and the findings of many clinical studies have revealed a consistent message: lowering blood pressure (BP) reduces mortality, stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure. In recognition of the importance of hypertension as a major issue in public health, the Chief Medical Officer for England recently identified hypertension as one of his five priority areas.