High Blood Pressure and Stroke

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Story Updated: Mar 14, 2014

A broad review of past research suggests that patients with above-normal blood pressure face a higher risk for stroke even if their readings don't officially reach high blood pressure levels.

The conclusion published in Neurology follows a fresh analysis of 19 previous studies involving more than 760,000 patients. All of the studies spent 4 to 36 years tracking stroke risk among patients diagnosed with prehypertension. Prehypertension occurs when blood pressure levels exceed the ideal of 120 over 80 but remain below the 140 over 90 marker for actual hypertension.

In all, roughly 25 to 54% of participants were diagnosed as prehypertensive and nearly 20% of strokes occurred among that group.

Even after accounting for other risk factors such as smoking, diabetes, or high cholesterol the experts found that prehypertensive patients faced about a 66% greater chance for stroke than those with normal blood pressure.

The finding raises questions as to whether prehypertensive patients might benefit from the same blood pressure medications typically recommended for those with hypertension.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with news from today that can lead to healthy tomorrows.

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, a nonprofit independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, is part of a family of companies that finances and delivers vital health care services to 1.8 million people across upstate New York. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield provides access to high-quality, affordable health coverage, including valuable health-related resources that our members use every day, such as cost-saving prescription drug discounts and wellness tracking tools in our Step Up program. To learn more, visit www.excellusbcbs.com