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Treating Prehypertension Lowers Stroke Risk: Study
Date:12/8/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new study found that the risk of stroke dropped about 22 percent in people with prehypertension who took drugs that lower blood pressure.

These people didn't yet have high blood pressure, but they still benefited from taking the medications, although there was no significant reduction in the rate of heart attacks for people taking antihypertensives.

"We know that blood pressure and stroke are closely related, and high blood pressure is an extremely high risk factor for stroke. If we could reduce blood pressure, we thought we could reduce the risk of stroke," said lead researcher Dr. Ilke Sipahi, an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University's Harrington-McLaughlin Heart and Vascular Institute and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

"We found a highly statistically significant 22 percent risk reduction in stroke with any kind of antihypertensive that was used," said Sipahi.

Results of the meta-analysis were published online Dec. 8 and are scheduled to appear in the February 2012 print issue of Stroke.

Prehypertension is defined as blood pressure that is between 120 to 139 mm Hg systolic (the top number) and 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic, according to background information in the study. Anything 140/90 mm Hg and above is considered hypertension. Prehypertension is very common, and may affect as many as 40 percent of Americans, according to the study.

Not everyone with prehypertension will go on to develop high blood pressure, but many will. And, according to the study, prehypertension alone increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

However, there are no current guidelines that recommend drug treatment for prehypertension. The current treatment is lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight and getting regular physical activity. Sipahi said that lifest
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