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High blood pressure medications lower risks in heart patients -- even those without hypertension

March 01, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Drugs to lower blood pressure may be good for some people with normal blood pressure.
Drugs to lower blood pressure may be good for some people with normal blood… (Ricardo DeAratanha / Los…)

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 Assn.

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%, congestive heart failure-related events by 29%, heart-disease events by 15% and death by any cause by 13%. 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 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.

Related: Aspirin is good for heart-attack prevention, but skip the proton pump inhibitors

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