Improved blood pressure control to prevent heart attacks and strokes

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Researchers state that 20% of heart attacks, strokes and deaths may be avoided in the current blood pressure control improvements continue.

The team based at Imperial College London stated that if the diagnosis and treatment trends continue until 2022, 80% of those affected by these illnesses will be of medication that is effective. That means that around 55,000 deaths, strokes and heart attacks will be avoided.

The team did analysis of blood pressure awareness, control and treatment of high blood pressure over a 17-year period to 2011. Their findings indicated that blood pressure levels in the general population improved dramatically, the treatment rates doubled, and those with controlled high blood pressure doubled to 63%.

The leader of the study, Emanuela Falaschetti, stated that the diagnosis, treatment and control of high blood pressure was below par in the UK, but the findings of the study are optimistic. She stated that previously the ‘rule of halves’ prevailed, where only 50% of diagnoses were made, 50% received treatment and 50% of those treated were controlled, this has now improved to the ‘rule of two-thirds.’ Due to these improvements, hundreds of thousands of major events have been prevented.

The University of Oxford’s Richard McManus, and University of Cambridge’s Jonathan Mant, wrote that this study has provided a welcome example of the combined effects of policy makers and individual physicians on a simple, but very important risk factor. They stated that it appears that after 50 years of treatment, the drugs appear to be effective.

In the UK, about one in three people suffers with high blood pressure. It is the single risk factor for death caused by heart attacks and strokes.

The blood pressure improvement in the general population may be attributable to a reduction in sodium intake, according to the researchers. Salt consumption has declined from 9.5g per day during 2000 to 2001, to 8.1g per day during 2011. It is still above the recommended 6g per day.

The team provided an estimation that if the 2011 situation of treatment for blood pressure treatment and control had been the same during 1994, around 68,000 to 100,000 non-fatal and fatal heart situations would have been prevented.

Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski

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