01/06/2003 - News

More evidence for benefits of lower blood pressure

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD


A study covering one million people reveals that the lower your blood pressure is, the better your health will be.

The risks of high blood pressure are already well known, but a new analysis from researchers in Oxford, UK, now reveals that even 'normal' blood pressure can be problematic. They looked at 61 studies, covering one million people in Europe, North America, China, and Japan. This reveals that the health risks of high blood pressure start from 115 mm Hg (systolic, or top figure) and 70 mm Hg (diastolic, or bottom figure).

From this base level, every increase of 20 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure or 10 mm Hg increase in diastolic blood pressure is linked with a doubling of death rate from stroke, and a doubling in death rate from heart disease. This is true both for middle-aged and older people.

The researchers believe that lowering systolic blood pressure by just 10 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg would reduce stroke death risk by about 40 per cent and heart disease death risk by 30 per cent. And even a few mm Hg reduction by lifestyle measures like cutting down on salt could save thousands of lives. In countries where the death rate from stroke is very high, like northern China, this could have a huge impact.


The Lancet 14th December 2002

Created on: 01/06/2003
Reviewed on: 01/06/2003

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