Reducing risk factors for high blood pressure may be the key to having a healthy heart. Research shows that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death, which has one key risk factor, hypertension.
One recent study published in the Chinese Medical Journal notes that in 2017, hypertension was a factor in over 2.5 million deaths in China alone, with 95.7% of which were due to CVD.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are ailments of the heart and blood vessels, such as arrhythmia, stroke, coronary artery disease, and cardiac arrest. While the cause for CVD can be varied and may be either genetic or due to lifestyle, one key risk factor is always hypertension.
In a new paper, Dr. Jing Liu from the Beijing Institute of Heart, Lung, and Blood Vessel Diseases, along with a team of researchers, explored how much hypertension puts a person at significant risk of CVD.
The team analyzed data from a 26-year follow-up of the Chinese Multi-Provincial Cohort Study-Beijing Project. First, researchers calculated the cumulative BP levels of 2429 participants over 15 years who were free of CVD. Then, for the next eleven years, the number of CVD incidents among these participants was registered.
Over the last eleven years of the study, 207 CVD events had occurred. Researchers found that the incidence of these events was greater among participants with higher cumulative blood pressure. This led researchers to suggest that cumulative blood pressure was a reliable measure of the risk of cardiovascular disease.
A Cumulative Effect
It appeared that having a cumulative blood pressure level higher than 131/83 mm/Hg over 15 years was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers noted that if a participant’s blood pressure was high in 2007 but their cumulative readings were low, their CVD risk was low. This meant that cumulative blood pressure was a better indicator of CVD risk than blood pressure measured at one time.
Dr. Liu said, “This study underscores the importance of starting BP management early. Lifestyle changes to keep BP in check, coupled with regular monitoring, can go a long way. In addition, waiting to medicate until the BP levels have become chronically high is not wise.”
Dr. Lui and his team suggest a shift in how high blood pressure is monitored by doctors for heart health. They suggest that this research can help guide medical professionals to pay attention to a patient’s previous blood pressure levels and duration, in addition to their current levels.