Antihypertensive Drugs Also Benefit Non-Hypertensives

Meta-analysis shows that treatment reduces heart attacks and stroke regardless of blood pressure
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- In everyone at risk for heart attack or stroke -- including those with normal blood pressure -- antihypertensive treatment significantly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease events and stroke, according to a study published online May 19 in BMJ.

M. R. Law, of Queen Mary University in London, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 108 studies, in which patients were randomized to receive either an antihypertensive drug or placebo, and 46 drug-comparison studies that included a total of 464,000 participants.

In all patients -- including those with and without vascular disease or hypertension -- the researchers found that the use of any of the main classes of antihypertensive drugs which decreased systolic blood pressure by 10 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure by 5 mm Hg was associated with about a 25 and 33 percent reduced risk of fatal or nonfatal coronary heart disease events and stroke, respectively, and was not associated with an increase in non-vascular mortality. They also found that antihypertensive treatment reduced the risk of heart failure by about 25 percent.

"Perhaps the most controversial aspect of their analysis is their comparison of combination blood pressure therapy at half standard doses with combination therapy at standard dose," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "These findings provide tacit support for the use of a 'polypill' to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in people likely to be at high risk (such as all people over the age of 55) without first checking their blood pressure."

Two of the authors hold patents (granted and pending) on the formulation of a combined pill to simultaneously reduce four cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure.

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