Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Blood pressure: Not to scare, but to alert

Ran across an interesting story from USA Today about the connection between above normal blood pressure might a higher-than-normal stroke risk:

People whose blood pressure was above normal — known as pre-hypertension — were 55% more likely to have a stroke compared to people with normal blood pressure, according to an analysis of 518,520 adults involved in 12 studies on blood pressure and stroke occurrence. The report was published Wednesday online in Neurology. One in three people in the USA has pre-hypertension.

The authors suggest treatments more aggressive than altering lifestyle might be necessary if future studies support the findings. Current treatments for pre-hypertension, defined by a systolic blood pressure (when the heart is pumping) between 120-139 and diastolic blood pressure (when the heart is at rest) between 80-89, include lowering it by losing weight, exercising, reducing salt intake and stopping smoking. Physicians might recommend drug therapy for patients with with pre-hypertension plus other diseases, including prediabetes and diabetes.

This isn't designed to scare people needlessly, just a reminder to know your blood pressure, have it checked regularly, and talk to your doctor.

(Photo from the National Institutes of Health)

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