High five for low scores: lower blood pressure isn’t as bad as we thought

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To start with, let’s talk about blood pressure. You’ve seen those two numbers on the screen when you get your blood pressure checked, right?

The top number is your systolic blood pressure – that’s when your heart beats, pumping blood.

The bottom number is your diastolic blood pressure – this is when your heart rests between beats.

But how low can this bottom number go before it becomes a problem? Well, it seems lower than we thought!

An Important Issue

High blood pressure is a big problem worldwide, affecting more than one in four men and one in five women.

It can cause serious health problems like heart attacks, kidney diseases, and brain conditions. Lately, it’s also been linked to worse outcomes in people with Covid-19.

A team of scientists, including some from NUI Galway, decided to dive deep into this question. They gathered genetic data and other information from over 47,000 patients around the world, all around 60 years old.

What they found was quite surprising. There appears to be no lower limit for diastolic blood pressure – meaning that it can go quite low without causing harm.

Even when it dropped to 50, there was no increase in heart disease risk. On the other hand, a systolic blood pressure reading above 120 did increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

What Does This Mean for Treatment?

This could change how doctors treat patients with high blood pressure. Usually, doctors aim to keep the diastolic blood pressure within the range of 70-90.

If they’ve been focusing too much on this, they may have been under-treating patients with high systolic blood pressure.

The findings of this study could free up doctors to focus more on the systolic value when it’s too high, without worrying about the diastolic blood pressure falling too low.

The New Advice

The researchers recommend treating patients with high blood pressure to get their systolic level between 100-130mmHg, if possible and if there are no side effects.

And they shouldn’t worry too much about the diastolic blood pressure value.

This study was led by Bill McEvoy and his team, and it was published in the journal Circulation.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about a common and unrecognized cause of high blood pressure, and this small habit can greatly benefit people with high blood pressure, and cholesterol.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about more efficient ways to treat high blood pressure, and potatoes and high blood pressure: what you need to know.

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