Research Raises Questions About "Normal" Blood Pressure
The results of a study of heart disease patients, reported in the Journalof the American Medical Association (November 10, 2004), found that"normal" blood pressure may not be low enough. The researchers foundthat by lowering the pressure well below the target numbers recommendedby national guidelines the patients had fewer heart attacks, cardiacarrests, strokes, and deaths. National guidelines for most individuals saythat systolic pressure should be lower than 140 mm Hg and diastolic pressureshould be lower than 90 mm Hg. At the study's onset, the participantsaveraged 129/78 mm Hg.
The 2-year international study included 1991 patients. The group allhad normal blood pressure, but was at high risk for adverse events. Thestudy found that, for every 16 heart disease patients with normal bloodpressure given drugs to lower it, 1 adverse event could be prevented. Theresearchers along with other experts agreed that more research wasneeded before modifying the guidelines.