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The patient with hypertension undergoing surgery

Lapage, Koen G.; Wouters, Patrick F.

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: June 2016 - Volume 29 - Issue 3 - p 397–402
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000343

Purpose of review General recommendations for the perioperative management of patients with hypertensive disease have not evolved much over the past 20 years, yet new pathophysiological concepts have emerged and new monitoring techniques are available today. In this review, we will discuss their significance and potential role in the modern perioperative care of hypertensive patients.

Recent findings For hypertensive patients, total cardiovascular risk rather than blood pressure (BP) alone should determine the preoperative strategy. Except for grade 3 hypertension, surgery should not be deferred on the basis of an elevated BP in the preoperative assessment.

New data suggest that even brief hypotensive episodes during surgery may have significant impact on outcome. Isolated systolic hypertension is the predominant phenotype in elderly patients who may be particularly vulnerable to hypoperfusion in the perioperative setting.

New monitoring techniques such as echocardiography and near-infrared spectroscopy may provide crucial information to optimize intraoperative control of BP based on an individual patient's pathophysiology.

Summary Hypertension is highly prevalent in patients presenting for surgery yet its impact on surgical outcome is still debated. Guidelines on risk stratification and perioperative hemodynamic management of patients with hypertensive disease remain sparse and cannot rely much on solid new evidence. Target organ damage associated with hypertensive disease rather than high BP per se appears to determine perioperative risk. In the absence of new data, an individualized and pathophysiology-based approach to control BP may be the best option to guide these patients through the perioperative period.

Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium

Correspondence to Patrick F. Wouters, MD, PhD, Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine, Ghent University and Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000, Ghent, Belgium. Tel: +32 93323281; e-mail:

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