Even Slightly High Blood Pressure Raises Stroke Risk

Thursday, 29 September 2011 01:27 PM

If you have blood pressure that is even slightly high, you may be at a significantly greater risk of having a stroke, according to new research.

A review of 12 studies involving more than 500,000 people found that those with prehypertension had a 55 percent greater risk of stroke than those with normal blood pressure levels, according to the online issue of the medical journal Neurology. A person has prehypertension when his systolic blood pressure or top number measures between 120 and 139 or his diastolic blood pressure or bottom number measures between 80 and 89.

“These people may immediately benefit from blood pressure lowering methods, such as reducing their salt intake and weight, to help reduce their risk of stroke," said researcher Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, a neuroscience professor and director of the Stroke Center at the University of California at San Diego.

Prehypertension is an extremely common condition, with one in three people in the U.S. have slightly elevated blood pressure levels, Dr. Ovbiagele noted.

Experts have long known that people with normal blood pressure have half the risk of having a stroke during their lifetime than those with high blood pressure. Until now, scientists did not know the stroke risk associated with being prehypertensive.

These findings have some physicians questioning whether people with prehypertension should be treated with drugs to lower their blood pressure.

© HealthDay

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Thursday, 29 September 2011 01:27 PM
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