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Benefit of blood pressure medication rises with total risk

In people with high blood pressure who are at greatest risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems, taking medication has nearly three times the impact as in those at low risk, says a study in The Lancet. The study confirms the value of considering a man’s total cardiovascular risk when weighing treatment options.

Researchers pooled 11 clinical trials involving more than 50,000 people and divided them into four groups based on their 10-year risk of heart attack, stroke, reduced heart function (heart failure), and death. How many of these harmful outcomes could be prevented by taking blood pressure drugs for five years?

In the high-risk group, medication prevented 38 problems for every 1,000 people treated, compared with only 14 in the low-risk group. That’s nearly three times the potential benefit.

A recent guideline urged doctors to start prescribing cholesterol-lowering statin drugs based on a person’s total cardiovascular risk, not just cholesterol levels. This study suggests a similar strategy might be wise for people with high blood pressure. Beyond that, it confirms that the cost, inconvenience, and potential side effects of blood pressure treatment may be well worth it for those most likely to suffer heart attack, stroke, and other bad outcomes.

Posted by: Dr.Health

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