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U-M study: 'Smarter' blood pressure guidelines could prevent many more heart attacks and strokes
Date:11/4/2013

ANN ARBOR, Mich. A new way of using blood pressure-lowering medications could prevent more than a fourth of heart attacks and strokes up to 180,000 a year while using less medication overall, according to new research from the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

Individualizing treatment recommendations using patients' risk of heart disease after considering multiple factors such as age, gender and whether or not the patient smokes is a more effective way to treat patients than current methods, according to the study that appears in the medical journal, Circulation.

Current medical guidelines use a one-size-fits-all treatment approach based on target blood pressure values that leads to some patients being on too many medications and others being on too little, authors say.

Blood pressure medication is ultimately used to prevent associated heart disease and stroke. Researchers found that a person's blood pressure level is often not the most important factor in determining if a blood pressure medication will prevent these diseases but common practice is to base treatment strictly on blood pressure levels.

"Drugs that lower blood pressure are among the most effective and commonly used medications in the country, but we believe they can be used dramatically more effectively," says lead author Jeremy Sussman, M.D., M.Sc., assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of General Medicine at the U-M Medical School and research scientist at the Center for Clinical Management Research at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

"The purpose of these medications is not actually to avoid high blood pressure itself but to stop heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases. We should guide use of medications by a patient's risk of these diseases and how much adding a new medication decreases that risk not solely on their blood pressure level. We found t
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Contact: Beata Mostafavi
bmostafa@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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