BACKGROUND: The role of vascular risk factors in glaucoma is still being debated. To assess the importance of vascular risk factors in patients with primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), data from the medical history of 2,879 POAG patients and 973 age-matched controls were collected and analyzed. METHODS: Design: observational survey. Setting: 35 Italian academic centers. Study population: POAG patients and age-matched controls. In order to reduce bias consecutive patients were included. Observation procedures: data concerning vascular risk factors were collected for all patients with a detailed questionnaire. A complete ophthalmological examination with assessment of intraocular pressure (IOP), visual field, optic disc, and systemic blood pressure was performed. Main outcome measures: the ESH-ESC (European Society of Hypertension-European Society of Cardiology) guidelines were used to calculate the level of cardiovascular risk. Crude and adjusted estimates of the odds ratios (OR) were calculated for all cardiovascular risk factors in POAG and controls. RESULTS: The study included 2,879 POAG patients and 973 controls. POAG cases had a significantly higher systolic and diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.001) and systolic perfusion pressure (p = 0.02) as compared with controls. Also mean IOP was significantly higher in the POAG group (p = 0.01), while diastolic perfusion pressure was not significantly different in the two groups. Myopia was more prevalent in the POAG group (23 vs 18%, p = 0.005) as well as a positive family history for glaucoma (26 vs 12%, p = 0.004). POAG patients tended to have a higher cardiovascular risk than controls: 63% of glaucoma cases vs 55% of controls (OR: 1.38, p = 0.005) had a "high" or "very high" cardiovascular risk. CONCLUSIONS: The level of cardiovascular risk was significantly higher in glaucoma patients than in controls.
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