Severe blood pressure fluctuations may signal a high risk of heart problems and premature death, a new study suggests. Researchers found that a simple reading of systolic blood pressure can tell whether the patient has an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
The study shows that a variation that is more than 14 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure, which is the first figure in a blood pressure reading, signals 25 percent higher risk of heart failure.
Paul Muntner, senior researcher involved in the study and epidemiology expert at the University of Alabama’s School of Public Health, suggests that people should keep a close watch on their blood pressure, and reach a doctor as soon as they observe unusually high variations from one reading to another.
Dr. Muntner explained that the fluctuation may signal that arteries are becoming stiff or they are damaged. The American Heart Association reported that one in three Americans is affected by high blood pressure.
During their research, scientists combed through the data gathered during an extended trial designed to assess the risks of taking blood pressure and cholesterol drugs in more than 25,000 people. Participants’ blood pressure was monitored and doctors took blood pressure readings up to seven times over a period of six to 28 months.
Researchers noted that a variation greater than 15 mm Hg signaled a 30 percent higher risk of heart attack or other potentially deadly cardiovascular disease and more than 45 percent increased risk of stroke. Moreover, the risk of dying from all causes jumped by nearly 60 percent.
Yet, study authors cautioned that their findings do not reveal a cause and effect relationship between blood pressure fluctuations and raised risk of fatal heart disease or stroke. But there’s a certain link and doctors should take it into account.
Dr. Muntner said that some blood pressure medications including diuretics and calcium channel antagonists are better than others in containing blood pressure fluctuations. But he believes that patients should not switch to other medications since there isn’t a definite proof that keeping blood pressure variations to a minimum can prevent fatal heart disease.
Other doctors recommend keeping systolic blood pressure under 140 mm Hg and the diastolic under 90 mm Hg through drugs and having a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
High blood pressure alone is the main culprit in kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease, previous studies had shown.
Image Source: Effective Health Care
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