Hypertension is currently the most frequent clinical cardiovascular disease, affecting more than 800 million people throughout the world. Reliable sources predict that more than 1.2 billion persons will be diagnosed with hypertension by the year 2020, including a particularly dramatic increase in middle-income societies and developing countries. Meanwhile, data from the World Health Organization identify hypertension as the number one cause of mortality in the world and point to its major role in the global burden of disease. For these reasons, hypertension has become a major issue in the health care agenda of many countries as well as an increasingly intense focus of interest in the medical community. To illustrate this focus, the paper on the 2003 European Society of Hypertension - European Society of Cardiology Guidelines for hypertension published in the Journal of Hypertension was in recent years the fifth most frequently quoted scientific article of all scientific disciplines combined.
The ever-increasing wealth of information on the basic, pathophysiological and clinical aspects of hypertension requires a high level of continuing education, prompting physicians and investigators alike to research the Internet frequently and peruse the many (currently more than 20) scientific journals dealing specifically with hypertension. The enormous weight of information creates the need for comprehensive updates and/or expert summaries on the most recent advances in specific topics relating to hypertension, so that practitioners may glean the most relevant information. For these reasons and more, it was highly appropriate to initiate a new series entitled "Hot Topics in Hypertension" and I was pleased to be asked to coordinate this project.
It is a great privilege to introduce this new and exciting series. We have selected prominent scientists in the field of hypertension and asked each one to discuss a specific and controversial issue. Together, we selected the following topics for this series: hypertension and insulin resistance; hypertension and the kidneys; the role of the renin-angiotensin system; and left ventricular hypertrophy. I am confident that readers will find each chapter interesting and useful in clinical practice, while appreciating the quality of the authors' work in sharing their knowledge and expertise on this complex and vitally important subject.
In the next few years, many new frontiers will emerge to challenge researchers and clinicians in the field of hypertension: genetics, genomics and proteomics of hypertension; hypertensive organ damage; the use of various blood pressure measurement techniques; the effects of metabolic syndrome and sudden-onset diabetes in hypertension; the expanding role of combination therapy; the use of renin inhibitors in targeting post-receptor intracellular pathways; the implementation of methods to control blood pressure throughout the world; treatment of overall risk in hypertension, and many other issues.
It is my sincere hope that this new editorial series will monitor future developments in covering a significant majority of these fascinating areas.