Both blood pressure numbers can predict your heart disease risk

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Blood pressure measurements, which include systolic and diastolic numbers, are crucial indicators of heart health.

The systolic number, appearing on top, shows the pressure when the heart pumps blood out, while the diastolic number, below, indicates the pressure when the heart is filling up with blood.

While past research often highlighted high systolic pressure as the main concern for heart-related issues, a recent study by Kaiser Permanente has brought a new perspective, showing that both systolic and diastolic pressures are important in assessing the risk of heart disease or stroke.

In the past, the medical community has focused more on systolic pressure, based on studies that suggested it was a stronger predictor of heart complications.

This led to a general emphasis on the top number during health assessments, with less attention paid to the diastolic reading. However, the latest findings challenge this approach, underscoring the importance of not overlooking the lower number.

Kaiser Permanente’s research involved a comprehensive analysis of over 36 million blood pressure readings from 1.3 million adult patients in Northern California collected from outpatient visits between 2007 and 2016.

This large-scale study revealed that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings are crucial in determining the risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

This held true across different definitions of high blood pressure, whether the threshold was set at 140/90 mm Hg or the more recent, stricter standard of 130/80 mm Hg.

These findings offer strong support for the recent updates in blood pressure guidelines, which advocate for tighter control of blood pressure, especially in patients at higher risk of hypertension.

By demonstrating the significance of both systolic and diastolic readings, the study suggests a more comprehensive approach to managing blood pressure could be beneficial in reducing the incidence of heart disease.

The research, led by Alexander C. Flint, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, emphasizes the value of maintaining lower blood pressure levels for overall heart health.

It calls for healthcare providers and patients alike to pay equal attention to both the systolic and diastolic numbers when monitoring blood pressure, highlighting a shift towards more inclusive and thorough heart disease prevention strategies.

This study not only challenges previous beliefs but also aligns with a growing consensus on the importance of comprehensive blood pressure management for long-term cardiovascular health.

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