Giving more patients blood pressure drugs 'could save lives'

Lives could be saved if doctors considered giving blood pressure medication to patients at high-risk of heart disease, it has been reported.

A study suggests that the drugs could be given to patients even if their blood pressure is normal, according to the BBC.

High blood pressure has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study, which appears in The Lancet, says blood pressure lowering "significantly reduces vascular risk" across various baseline blood pressure levels.

Experts analysed the results of more than 100 trials involving more than 600,000 people.

The study said: "Our results provide strong support for lowering blood pressure to systolic blood pressures less than 130 mm Hg and providing blood pressure lowering treatment to individuals with a history of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease."

Professor Kazem Rahimi from the George Institute for Global Health at Oxford University, told the Daily Telegraph: "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.

"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."

He added: "Whether the person starts at 130 mm Hg or 160 mm Hg, they still got the benefit."

Prof Liam Smeeth, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the BBC: "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."

Heart specialist Dr Tim Chico, of the University of Sheffield, said medication need not be the only way forward, telling the BBC: "We can all reduce our blood pressure.

"We can do this safely, cheaply and as effectively as tablets by eating healthily, taking more physical activity, reducing alcohol intake, and maintaining a healthy weight."