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
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.
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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