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Stroke risk patients with above average blood pressure can be helped with drugs

Patients with hypertension, or chronic high blood pressure, are often given drugs to lower their risk of heart disease and stroke but the medication could also benefit a wider group of patients.Stroke risk patients with above average blood pressure can be helped with drugsResearchers found that people with prehypertension, where blood pressure is higher than normal but not as severe as in hypertension, had a 22 per cent lower risk of stroke if they took the drugs.

An analysis of 16 studies, covering 70,664 patients, found that treating 169 prehypertensive people with blood pressure-lowering medication for 4.3 years would prevent one stroke from happening.

High blood pressure is the biggest risk factor for stroke, and an estimated 40 per cent of strokes could be prevented if people took steps to control their blood pressure levels.

US data shows that about 10 per cent of Americans have prehypertension, with a blood pressure between 120/80mm Hg and 139/89mm Hg – higher than the upper boundary of “normal” but below the lower limit of hypertension.

Ilke Sipahi of the Harrington-McLaughlin Heart and Vascular Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, who led the study, published in the Stroke journal, said patients would be better off trying to lower their blood pressure through a healthy diet and physical activity than by taking pills.

He said: “We do not think that giving blood pressure medicine instead of implementing the lifestyle changes is the way to go … however, the clear-cut reduction in the risk of stroke with blood pressure pills is important and may be complementary to lifestyle changes.”

Dr Sharlin Ahmed of The Stroke Association said: “Making a few simple lifestyle choices, such as eating a healthy diet low in salt, giving up smoking, and exercising regularly can help to keep your blood pressure under control and can reduce your risk of stroke.

“As highlighted in this study, it may also be beneficial for some people with borderline high blood pressure to take blood pressure lowering medication, however this needs to be discussed with your GP.”

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