Atherosclerosis and High Blood Pressure
Treat High Blood Pressure, Prevent Atherosclerosis
Treating high blood pressure can provide dramatic protection against atherosclerosis. Much of the decline in the death rate from heart attacks and strokes is due to improved treatment of high blood pressure over the past 50 years.
For example, in middle-aged and older adults with high blood pressure, lowering systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 10 points leads to:
- 50% to 60% lower risk of dying from stroke
- 40% to 50% lower risk of death from a heart attack
Exercise and a low-salt diet that is high in fruits and vegetables will reduce blood pressure by a moderate amount. For most people, though, medication is necessary to adequately control high blood pressure. In fact, most people will eventually require two or more drugs for blood pressure.
Numerous drugs effectively treat hypertension. No particular medicine has been proven better than the others at preventing atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure is the most common of the risk factors for atherosclerosis. It's also easily detectable and treatable. Most drugstores and almost all fire stations provide free blood pressure checks, and good medications are available.
Don't fly blind: get checked, know your numbers, and get treated if you have hypertension.