A Northwestern Medical study has found that although blood pressure medications can help stabilize current blood pressure issues, they are unable to undo previous damage. Treating high blood pressure is essential to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, but the researchers suggest that blood pressure medications can’t undo what has already been done; therefore, there is still a cardiovascular event risk.
The researchers aimed to determine how effective hypertension treatments are on lowering cardiovascular disease risk in individuals who have always had ideal blood pressure.
Senior author, Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, said, “The best outcomes were seen in those who always had ideal levels of blood pressure and never required medications. Those who were treated with medication and achieved ideal levels were still at roughly twice the risk of those with untreated ideal levels. And, of course, people with untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure were at even greater risk.”
Dr. Lloyd-Jones stresses that it is still important to treat high blood pressure and that hypertension medications have been shown effective in middle-aged and older adults; however, he suggests that the findings focus on the importance of maintaining healthy blood pressure in a person’s younger years.
He added, “A greater focus on healthy lifestyles, such as healthier eating patterns, with more fruits and vegetables and lower sodium intake and regular participation in physical activity are the best means for preventing blood pressure levels that might require medication.”
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 9,000 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) studies.
Participants in the MESA study on antihypertensive medications with well-controlled blood pressure still had twice as much risk of cardiovascular disease event within nine and a half years when compared to individuals who had always had healthy levels of blood pressure.
The CARDIA study participants currently controlling their high blood pressure with medication, experienced more high blood pressure in their younger years in comparison to controlled with healthy pressure not taking medications. These individuals, too, had a larger risk of end-organ damage.
Future research is required to determine if earlier intervention could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease events and end-organ damage further.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.