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Blood Pressure Drugs May Help Heart Patients Without Hypertension
Date:3/1/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- In people with heart disease, the use of blood pressure-lowering medications can be beneficial, even in those who don't have high blood pressure, new research suggests.

The study found that when people without high blood pressure were given blood pressure drugs, their risk of congestive heart failure, stroke, all-cause mortality and a combination of cardiovascular disease outcomes were reduced.

"If someone has had a previous heart attack or other cardiovascular event, and their blood pressure is in the normal range, they're still at risk of future cardiovascular events. There may be an additional benefit to giving an anti-hypertensive medication to these folks," said study author Angela M. Thompson, a doctoral research fellow in the department of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

"Current treatment recommendations advise treatment when the blood pressure is over 140/90 mm/Hg, but our study shows that you can obtain benefits even when the blood pressure is below that," Thompson explained.

In fact, the risk for cardiovascular disease begins at 115 mm/Hg of systolic pressure (the top number on a blood pressure reading), according to background information in the study.

In addition, in adults 55 years and older, the lifetime risk of developing hypertension is more than 90 percent, the study noted.

The study, which was funded by Tulane University and the National Institutes of Health, was published in the March 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to background information in the study. About 54 percent of strokes and 46 percent of heart disease cases occur in people who have blood pressure levels in the normal range, the study reported.

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