The current meta-analysis looked at the effect that blood pressure-lowering medications might have on the risk of stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular death.
The researchers found 16 randomized controlled trials involving people with prehypertension taking a form of blood pressure-lowering drug, such as an ACE inhibitor, beta blocker or angiotensin receptor blocker. These studies had a total of nearly 71,000 people enrolled in them.
For people receiving active treatment with an antihypertensive, the risk of stroke dropped by 22 percent.
The researchers also found that to prevent one stroke from occurring, 169 people would have to be treated with a blood pressure medication for an average of 4.3 years.
The risk of heart attack wasn't reduced, but the researcher said there was a trend toward fewer cardiovascular deaths, though the trend didn't reach statistical significance.
"Now that we know the risk of stroke can be reduced, perhaps we need to do risk stratification. If you're someone at particularly high risk, maybe we should pull the trigger on treatment earlier, and not necessarily wait until they reach that magic number of 140/90," Sipahi said. He said that lifestyle changes should be tried first. If those changes fail, then it might be time to consider medication to lower blood pressure, he said.
"This is a big study that adds to the argument of shifting to earlier intervention. When to initiate treatment for something that is 'pre' disease is challenging, and more studies are needed," said Dr. Robert Graham, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
"I'd still recommend that people work on known risk factors. Don't give up on lifestyle changes," he added.
Learn more about high blood pressure and prehypertension from the U.S. Na
All rights reserved