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Low Blood Pressure Key to Longer Life

July 2, 2016
Plain English Version

blood pressure

A new federal study says keeping your blood pressure (bp) low will help you live a longer life.

The study answered a question that heart doctors have thought about for decades. How low should blood pressure be?

The study looked at patients who reached a systolic blood pressure goal below 120. This is far lower than the previously held goal of 140 or 15o for people over 60 years of age. The 120 level patients had their risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes reduced by a third. Their risk of death was reduced by nearly a quarter.

Systolic pressure is the higher of the two blood pressure numbers. It represents pressure on blood vessels when the heart contracts.

Nearly 79 million adults in this country have high blood pressure. That is one out of every three people. Half of those being treated for high bp still have systolic pressures over 140.

How to get to a systolic bp of 120? Diet and exercise are the best ways. Drugs help but can have side effects. Older people often take a number of drugs for chronic problems. For these folks, low blood pressure could lead to dizziness and falls.

The findings of the study were so dramatic that the study ended two years before it was supposed to so findings could be made known to the public.

Less than two years ago, a federal panel reported the opposite conclusions. People had been told systolic blood pressure of 140 was good. But the panel said 150 was alright for people ages 60 and older.

The new findings are very different. It may lead people to ask their doctors what is going on?

A heart doctor said people with high blood pressure should not panic. They do not need to rush to their doctors. High blood pressure takes its toll slowly.He said, “No one is in imminent danger here.”

Source: The New York Times September 12, 2015

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