Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness

Baltimore Washington Eye Center, Maryland

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hypertensive Retinopathy Predicts Stroke Risk

During your regular eye exam we thoroughly and carefully exam the tiny blood vessels in your Retina. This exam is never more important than in seniors and others who have high blood pressure, other vascular disease and diabetes. For patients with hypertension, or high blood pressure, one of the very important things we can tell from your eye health is you potential risk of stroke. Historically, assessment of the signs of hypertensive retinopathy-the retinal vascular condition that results from high blood pressure-has been recommended for determining end organ damage such as kidney and heart problems.

According to researchers reporting in the journal Hypertension there is a clear predictive value in evaluating whether hypertensive retinopathy predicts the long-term risk of stroke in those with hypertension.  In this study, participants with hypertension aged 50 to 73 years had gradable retinal photographs, no history of diabetes mellitus, stroke, or coronary heart disease at baseline and data on incident stroke, were included from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Retinal photographs were assessed for hypertensive retinopathy signs and classified as none, mild, and moderate/severe. Any history of stroke, cerebral infarction or hemorrhagic stroke were identified and confirmed. The results showed that after adjusting for age, sex, blood pressure and other risk factors, persons with moderate hypertensive retinopathy were more likely to have stroke. Even in patients with hypertension on medication with good control of blood pressure, hypertensive retinopathy was related to an increased risk of stroke!

From this study we know that hypertensive retinopathy predicts the long term risk of stroke, independent of blood pressure, even in treated patients with good hypertension control. Thus, if you have high blood pressure, it is often important for us to obtain photographs at your eye examination in order to document and assess hypertensive retinopathy signs that may be useful for assessment of your stroke risk.

If you or someone you know has questions about hypertensive retinopathy and stroke risk, they should schedule an eye exam by calling Baltimore Washington Eye Center at 800-495-3937, visiting Baltimore Washington Eye Center or facebook.com/baltimorewashingtoneyecenter.

BaltimoreWashington Eye Center is a leading eye care practice with office locations at 200 Hospital Drive, Suite 600, Glen Burnie, Maryland 21061 and River Hill Professional Center, 6100 Day Long Lane, Suite 207, Clarksville, Maryland 21029, serving the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area.