High Blood Pressure : Lower is better when it comes to blood pressure

BOSTON, MA — For people with heart disease, lowering even "normal" blood pressure can reduce the chances of having a heart attack, stroke, severe chest pain, or the need for a procedure to open coronary arteries, according to the Harvard Heart Letter.

Blood Pressure & Heart Disease

An international study that included 2,000 people with heart disease and an average blood pressure of 129/78 — a reading that would be considered normal in almost any doctor's office — found that those who took either of two blood pressure medications not only lowered their blood pressures but fared better health-wise as well, compared with those taking a placebo. People taking the medications were less likely to die of cardiovascular disease, experience a nonfatal heart attack or stroke, need bypass surgery or angioplasty, or be hospitalized for chest pain. The Harvard Heart Letter explains that while the differences between the treated groups and placebo group were not huge, applying the findings to the millions of people with heart disease and near-normal blood pressure could save thousands of lives and procedures.

Lower Blood Pressure & Heart Health

According to the Harvard Heart Letter, this study suggests that the 2003 national guideline for hypertension, which set a newer, stricter cutoff for a healthy blood pressure, is right on target. What's more, it points out that for people with heart disease, "the lower the better" applies as much to blood pressure as it does to cholesterol.

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