Hypertension is more commonly known as raised blood pressure. It rarely causes symptoms but is very important, as hypertension is known to be associated with an increased risk of both heart attacks and strokes. Hypertension is diagnosed after a series of blood pressure readings have been taken that are found to be in excess of the current recommendations. Treatment measures include losing weight, taking exercise and reducing the amount of salt in the diet. Most patients with hypertension will have to take medication at some stage. The level at which treatment should be started is a matter of some debate, and is discussed in the papers cited below.

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Abandoning diastole
Peter Sever
BMJ 1999; 318: 1773.

British Hypertension Society guidelines for hypertension management 1999: summary
Lawrence E Ramsay, Bryan Williams, G Dennis Johnston, Graham A MacGregor, Lucilla Poston, John F Potter, Neil R Poulter, and Gavin Russell
BMJ 1999; 319: 630-635.

Tight blood pressure control and risk of macrovascular and microvascular complications in type 2 diabetes: UKPDS 38
UK Prospective Diabetes Study Group
BMJ 1998; 317: 703-713.

Systematic review of randomised controlled trials of multiple risk factor interventions for preventing coronary heart disease
Shah Ebrahim and George Davey Smith
BMJ 1997; 314: 1666. 

What constitutes controlled hypertension? Patient based comparison of hypertension guidelines
T P Fahey and T J Peters
BMJ 1996; 313: 93-96.

British guidelines on managing hypertension
Bruce M Psaty and Curt D Furberg
BMJ 1999; 319: 589-590