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Stroke. 1994 Jan;25(1):44-50.

Blood pressure treatment slows the progression of carotid stenosis in patients with isolated systolic hypertension.

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Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15261.



The Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP) was a randomized trial testing the efficacy of treating systolic hypertension in older adults. A significant reduction in stroke risk was observed among participants assigned to active treatment. Serial carotid duplex scans were performed on 129 participants at the University of Pittsburgh center, and rates of progression and regression of carotid stenosis were observed.


Changes in blood flow velocity ratios were used to detect progression because they can be reliably measured and their relation to degree of residual lumen is known. Progression required the development of a 40% to 50% diameter stenosis when stenosis was not initially present or, if already present, further reduction in the lumen diameter. Regression required the absence of a 40% to 50% diameter stenosis when stenosis was initially present or a stenosis significantly less severe than that initially seen.


Progression occurred in 22% (28/129) of participants and regression in 16% (8/49). Progression of carotid stenosis occurred more often among participants randomized to placebo as compared with active treatment (31% versus 14%, P = .020). All eight patients exhibiting-regression were randomized to active treatment. In multivariate analysis, participants assigned to placebo had 4.3 times greater odds of progressing than participants assigned to active treatment. Other factors significantly related to progression were higher degree of plaque at baseline, low high-density lipoprotein-3, high lipoprotein(a), and younger age.


Treating systolic hypertension appears to slow progression of carotid stenosis. Similar effects occurring in the intracranial vessels may be one reason for the substantial decrease in stroke among SHEP participants assigned to active treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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