March 2, 2011 in Nation/World

Blood-pressure drugs improved outcomes

Study says even patients without hypertension may benefit
Shari Roan Los Angeles Times
 

LOS ANGELES – High blood pressure often goes hand-in-hand with heart disease. But some people with heart disease don’t have hypertension. Those people, however, may still benefit from taking medications to treat high blood pressure, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Experts reviewed 25 studies that examined the use of anti-hypertensive medications and prevention of heart attacks, strokes and death in people with heart disease but who had normal blood pressure. Using anti-hypertensive drugs reduced the risk of stroke by 23 percent, congestive heart failure-related events by 29 percent, heart-disease events by 15 percent and death by any cause by 13 percent. There was not a reduction in heart-attack risk, however.

The issue of whether heart patients with normal blood pressure should take anti-hypertensive medications has been debated for some time. But this study shows an obvious benefit, said the authors, led by Angela M. Thompson of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

While the analysis is good news for people with heart disease, it’s not clear whether people without heart disease and with normal blood pressure would benefit from taking anti-hypertensive medications, said Dr. Hector O. Ventura and Dr. Carl J. Lavie, the authors of an editorial accompanying the study. Improvements in diet and exercise patterns can reduce the chances of developing hypertension as well as heart disease, they wrote.

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