Throughout life, those who maintain modest and sustained decreases in blood pressure and cholesterol levels lower their risk of heart disease and circulatory disease, according to a new study. This research helps to reinforce the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout all stages of life.
For the study, Professor Brian Ference, lead researcher of the study at the University of Cambridge and his team studied 438,952 participants in the UK Biobank who had a total 24,980 major coronary events. This included non-fatal heart attack, ischemic stroke, or death due to coronary heart disease. An approach called Mendelian randomization was used to analyze the patients, which uses naturally occurring genetic differences to randomly divide the participants into groups. This helps to mimic the effects of running a clinical trial.
Participants with genes associated with lower blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol, and a combination of both were put into different groups. They were then compared against others without these genetic associations.
Researchers compared differences in blood LDL cholesterol and systolic blood pressure along with the number of cardiovascular events.
They found that participants that had a long-term reduction of 1 mmol/L low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood along with a ten mmHg reduction in blood pressure showed an 80 percent lower lifetime risk of developing heart and circulatory disease. This combination also showed a reduced risk of death from these conditions by 67 percent.
Prevent Life-Threatening Conditions
Ference spoke about the research, saying, “Heart and circulatory diseases steal the lives of 168,000 people each year in the UK, which is just greater than the population of the city of Cambridge. It’s vital we do everything possible to help prevent people developing these life-threating conditions.”
“Even small reductions in both ‘bad’ cholesterol and blood pressure for sustained periods of time can pay very big health dividends, and dramatically reduce the lifetime risk of developing heart and circulatory disease.”
“We now plan to take the results from this study to create a lifetime cardiovascular risk calculator and to support the development of new prevention guidelines.”
The research was partly funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and were presented in Paris at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress. It has also been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
As simple devices are now available for measuring blood pressure and can be found at many drug stores, everyone between the ages of 40-74 should be checking their health regularly. It is essential to take advantage of this, along with a cholesterol test that can be given by a doctor. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way towards keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Be sure to eat healthily, and exercise regularly to help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels healthy.