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All people over the age of 55 should take drugs to lower their blood pressure, regardless of their current reading, according to findings published in the British Medical Journal.
Taking the drugs reduces people’s chances of suffering a stroke, heart attack or heart failure, even if their current reading was not considered to be high, said Professor Malcolm Law and his colleagues in a review of 150 studies.
Most types of drugs used to treat BP had comparable effects, reducing the risk of heart attacks and heart failure by around 25% and cutting the chances of having a stroke by about a third.
The figures are based on the lowering of systolic BP by 10mmHg or diastolic BP by 5mmHg.
“Beyond a certain age, we’re saying everyone would benefit from taking drugs that lower blood pressure,” said Prof Law. “What we call ‘normal’ blood pressure is actually high, and what we call high blood pressure is actually higher.”
Prof Law dismissed talk that the UK population was being “medicalised”.
Copyright Press Association 2009