In a new study, researchers found that using a patient’s overall heart disease and stroke risk to determine high blood pressure treatment could manage the health condition more effectively than just using blood pressure levels alone.
This new strategy is more effective in preventing heart attacks and strokes.
The research was conducted by an international team including scientists from Northwestern Medicine.
So far, clinical guidelines on the use of blood pressure drugs have been based primarily on a patient’s blood pressure levels.
But guidelines for aspirin and cholesterol drug are made based on a multivariable heart disease risk assessment.
Such an assessment takes into account many factors, such as age, sex, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol (‘good’ cholesterol), systolic blood pressure and smoking to guide heart disease treatment.
In the study, the team suggests that focusing only on the blood pressure number to determine treatment is not good enough.
Scientists need to think about the whole patient and the context of their other risk factors.
They analyzed individual data of more than 48,000 participants in 11 clinical trials.
They examined whether using heart attack risk assessment in making blood pressure treatment decisions could be better than using blood pressure numbers only.
The researchers found that a treatment strategy based on predicted five-year heart disease risk could prevent more events —including stroke, coronary heart disease, heart failure, and death.
The strategy also required the treatment of fewer people.
The finding suggests that heart disease risk assessment plays an important role in blood pressure treatment decisions.
Future work needs to confirm the results of the study.
The lead author of the study is Kunal Karmali, a cardiologist.
The study is published in PLOS Medicine.
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