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Small Increases in Blood Pressure Raise Heart Death Risk

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To lower one's blood pressure, Sperling advises appropriate medical treatment, sodium restriction, weight loss, exercise, and minimal alcohol consumption.

MacMahon stresses the need to recognize that blood-pressure-related disease affects many more people than previously thought. "Lifestyle changes should be considered across the board for individuals at risk," he says. In regard to medications, he states that most blood pressure-lowering drugs are still limited to those with diagnosed hypertension. More clinical trials are needed to investigate the use of blood-pressure lowering drugs on others at risk for blood-pressure-related diseases.

Such studies should begin as soon as possible, MacMahon argues. He notes that single-drug treatment with most available agents lowers blood pressure by only 5-10%. Although drug combinations or new drugs can increase this action by about half, new drugs urgently are needed.

"There is the potential to avoid millions of unnecessary deaths, heart attacks, and strokes each year by the development of more effective treatments for blood-pressure reduction," he says.

Vital Information:

  • Small increases in blood pressure raise the risk of death from coronary heart disease, even in those who are not diagnosed with high blood pressure.
  • To lower blood pressure, experts advise medical treatment, sodium restriction, weight loss, and limited alcohol consumption.
  • Blood pressure medications are currently approved only for those who have diagnosed high blood pressure, but further study is needed for others who are at risk for blood pressure-related diseases.
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