Have high blood pressure? Aim for 140/90: study

For patients with high blood pressure, there’s no evidence that aiming lower than the standard 140 over 90 millimeters mercury (mm Hg) will do any good, according to a review of previous studies.

High blood pressure is linked to heart attack and stroke, and so the idea that “lower is better” has recently caused some doctors to recommend pushing blood pressure targets to 135 over 85 mm Hg. (The higher number in a blood pressure measurement is the systolic pressure, while the lower number is the diastolic pressure.)

However, in seven trials involving more than 22,000 patients, there were no differences in the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death between people who reached 140/90 and those who reached 135/85.

Dr. Jose A. Arguedas, from the University of Costa Rica, and his colleagues published their findings in the Cochrane Library, part of the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews.

To refine the findings, Arguedas’s team calls for more research on groups of patients with particular conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease.

SOURCE: Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, 2009.

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