Better Blood Pressure, Longer Life?
Study: Normal Midlife Blood Pressure Lengthened Life by 5 Years
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Franco studied data from more than 3,100 people who were 50 years old.
They were tracked for up to 46 years. They got medical checkups every other
year as part of the large Framingham Heart Study.
Their other health records were also noted. So were hospitalizations and
Cholesterol and physical activity levels weren't always known. Other risk
factors were considered. Those included smoking status, age, sex, body mass
index (BMI), and education.
Less Time With Heart Disease
People with normal blood pressure didn't just live longer. They also spent
fewer years with poor heart health.
Men with normal blood pressure lived seven more years without heart disease
than those with high blood pressure. They spent two fewer years of their life
with heart disease.
Women had similar benefits, say the researchers.
As blood pressure levels rose above normal, so did the risk of heart
disease, heart attack, and stroke, they write.
Then and Now
The data were gathered decades ago, in the 1950s and 1960s.
Back then, blood pressure control in the U.S. was "poor," say the
Times have changed. Still, the researchers say the study shows what can
happen if high blood pressure doesn't get appropriate treatment.
More studies should be done of people who are treated, they say.
The findings are "solid evidence" about the life-lengthening,
heart-protecting benefits of curbing high blood pressure. So says Athanase
Benetos, MD, PhD, in a journal editorial.
Benetos is an internal medicine and geriatrics professor at France's Centre
de Gériatrie CHU-Nancy and INSERM U684.
Your health care provider can help you get started on the right path. The
first step: Get tested. Learn your blood pressure numbers, and take it from