With heart disease being the number one cause of death in the United States, killing more than 630,000 people every year, it’s no wonder that doctors are working to find solutions to prevent cardiac arrests and heart attacks. After yesterday’s study that claimed that sudden cardiac arrest may not be so sudden after all, a new study shows that lowering blood pressure can reduce heart attack risk.
The extensive study
Led by Kazem Rahimi from the University of Oxford, the study focused on a sample of over 600,000 people, followed over the course of two decades, and used data from 123 medical trials.
When your blood pressure is taken, it is done so by using two numbers – the systolic and the diastolic pressures. These numbers refer to the pressure at the level of the arteries when your heart is beating, and the pressure between heart beats, when the muscle is relaxed and refilling with blood.
The American Heart Association says that a blood pressure is normal if it’s less than 120/80 mmHG (millimeters of mercury), and that it can be considered high when exceeding 140/90.
As high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes, killing 9.4 million people each year, and affecting more than a billion, the researchers wanted to see if they can prevent the conditions by lowering the blood pressure preventively.
What the scientists found out
Dr. Kazem Rahimi claims that lowering the blood pressure to levels underneath those currently recommended could potentially save millions of lives by greatly reducing the prevalence of cardiac disease.
According to the study’s results, every 10 mmHG reduction in the subjects’ systolic blood pressure led to very impressive drops in a number of causes of death.
For example, for every 10 mmHG, the risk of heart failure and stroke are reduced by a quarter, that of heart attacks by a fifth, and the risk of death by any cause was reduced by 13%.
This urged the researchers to ask for the revision of generally known and used blood pressure guidelines.
However, the researchers don’t recommend the practice just for safety’s sake, as it would be very expensive and not very efficient.
All those at risk of any of the afflictions mentioned in the study, however, are advised to take blood pressure lowering medication, as it can significantly increase their chances of survival.
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