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Dec 25, 2015 07:50 AM EST

High-Risk heart patients should get medications for blood pressure: study

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A new study suggests that people at high risk for a heart attack or stroke should be given blood pressure-lowering medications no matter what their blood pressure level is, nwitimes reports.

The new report was published in the Dec. 23 issue of The Lancet.

"Our findings clearly show that treating blood pressure to a lower level than currently recommended could greatly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and potentially save millions of lives if the treatment was widely implemented," lead author Kazem Rahimi said in a journal news release.

The current protocols recommend that one should start taking medication when readings reach 140/90 mm Hg for non-elderly individuals, and 150/90 for the elderly.

For the study, the researchers reviewed previous 123 studies conducted between 1966 and 2015 that involved more than 600,000 people

Rahimi is deputy director of The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Oxford in England.

The new study revealed that with every 10 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure achieved through medication, heart disease risk dropped by as much as one-fifth regardless of the patients' blood pressure when treatment began.

"The results provide strong support for reducing systolic blood pressure to less than 130 mm Hg, and blood pressure-lowering drugs should be offered to all patients at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, whatever their reason for being at risk," Rahimi said.

According to BBC, Prof Liam Smeeth, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the findings were important for those at highest risk.

However, he warned: "One important caveat is that not everyone will be able to tolerate having their blood pressure reduced to low levels, and there is a need to balance possible drug side effects and likely benefits."

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