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High blood pressure remains a major health issue worldwide, with profound-and often silent-multisystem effects.

Systemic hypertension (HTN) is a common health problem—affecting more than 800 million people worldwide—that often remains asymptomatic until late in the disease course. It is a major risk factor for both coronary artery disease and cerebrovascular accident.

Although HTN has both genetic and environmental factors, the exact mechanism in the majority of affected individuals is largely unknown. Cardiac hypertrophy, heart failure, aortic dissection and renal failure are all systemic sequelae of the disease process. As we know, hypertensive ocular changes can be the initial finding in a patient with undiagnosed HTN and may have sight-threatening consequences.

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Joe Pizzimenti
Associate Editor, Systemic Disease for Dr. Joseph Pizzimenti is an internationally-recognized speaker and author, and a Fellow of both the American Academy of Optometry (AAO) and the Optometric Retina Society (ORS). He served as ORS President from 2012-2014. Dr. Pizzimenti has completed funded clinical research in the areas of diabetes, age-related macular degeneration, vitreomacular adhesion, and low vision. His scientific articles have appeared in a host of peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Pizzimenti co-authored a chapter on Diabetic Retinopathy in the textbook entitled Diabetes in Black America.

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