Signs of hypertensive retinopathy linked to risk of cardiovascular disease

May 2, 2005

Patients with moderate signs of hypertensive retinopathy should probably be evaluated for systemic microvascular diseases, noted Tien Y. Wong, MD, at the "Ocular Pathology&#8212Beyond the Eye" symposium at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting.

May 2 - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Patients with moderate signs of hypertensive retinopathy should probably be evaluated for systemic microvascular diseases, noted Tien Y. Wong, MD, at the "Ocular Pathology-Beyond the Eye" symposium at the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology annual meeting.

Specific signs to look for include generalized and focal retinal arteriolar narrowing, arterio-venous nicking, retinal hemorrhages, microaneurysms, and cotton wool spots, explained Dr. Wong, of the Centre for Eye Research Australia, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Clinicians should consider using a simple classification system of hypertensive retinopathy signs for evaluating the severity of the condition. He proposed four categories: none, mild, moderate, and malignant.

"Hypertensive retinopathy is common in the general population (ranging between 3% to 14%)," Dr. Wong said. "These hypertensive retinopathy signs are strongly associated with concurrent blood pressure levels."

However, these retinal changes can also be found in the normotensive population. "Some signs are predictive of future risk of hypertension and might be a marker of hypertension severity," he said.