You already know that medication can prevent heart attacks and strokes in people diagnosed with high blood pressure. But a study published May 1, 2021, in The Lancet reveals that medication may also offer benefits to people with pressures still in the normal or "high normal" range and no clear signs (yet) of cardiovascular disease. Researchers combined data from 48 randomized trials of blood pressure drugs involving nearly 345,000 participants. Over four years, reducing blood pressure by just five millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) reduced the overall risk of cardiovascular problems by 10% — problems like clogged coronary arteries, weakened heart muscle (heart failure), chest pain, and stroke. The risk declined regardless of how high the pressure was, or whether participants already had heart problems or stroke. Study authors stress that the findings don’t mean everyone should be put on blood pressure drugs. Medications always come with costs and risks for side effects. But this study suggests that people with a relatively high risk for heart attacks and strokes might consider taking a medication if their blood pressure is in the "high normal" range, always in combination with diet and exercise.
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