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Treating High Blood Pressure May Add Years to Life

December 21, 2011

TUESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) — People suffering from high
blood pressure, or hypertension, who keep their blood pressure levels
under control may add years to their life, a new study suggests.

In fact, those in the study who took medicine to lower their blood
pressure for more than four years reduced their risk of dying from
cardiovascular disease over a 20-year period, the researchers found.

“For the first time, we prove that treating high blood pressure
prolongs life,” said lead researcher Dr. John Kostis, a professor of
medicine pharmacology at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in
New Brunswick, N.J.

“If you take your medications for a month, you live an extra day,” he
said. “One day benefit from a month of treatment sounds small, but if you
start treatment at 40, for example, then you live a couple of extra

Although the antihypertensive diuretic chlorthalidone was used in the
study, it really doesn’t make a difference which antihypertensive one
uses; the benefit in terms of life expectancy should be the same, Kostis

“The main thing is to take medication to get blood pressure under
control,” he said. “Treat your hypertension early so you can benefit from
a longer, happier life.”

The report was published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the
American Medical Association

To determine the effect antihypertensive drugs might have on extending
life, Kostis and his colleagues used data from the Systolic Hypertension
in the Elderly Program (SHEP) trial.

In that trial, conducted between 1985 and 1990, more than 4,000
hypertensive patients were randomly assigned to take chlorthalidone or an
inactive placebo. The patients in the study were an average of 72 years of

Kostis noted that if chlorthalidone didn’t work, patients were given a
beta blocker.

At the end of the trial, all of the patients were advised to get their
hypertension treated, the researchers noted.

When Kostis’ group looked at the 22-year follow-up data in 2006, about
60 percent of the participants had died. Of these, 59.9 percent of those
taking chlorthalidone had died as did 60.5 percent of those who received

The researchers found that life expectancy and survival were longer for
those who received chlorthalidone during the trial compared with those
given a placebo.

The gain in life expectancy, for death from any cause, linked to
treating hypertension was about half a day per month of treatment, they

Also, people taking an antihypertensive gained about one day free from
cardiovascular death per month of treatment, and had less of a chance of
dying from cardiovascular disease than those who had received placebo; 28
percent versus 31 percent, respectively.

Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine and
science at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that
“hypertension is a major modifiable risk factor for heart attacks,
strokes, heart failure, renal failure and premature cardiovascular

Treatment of adults with elevated blood pressure with antihypertensive
medications has been shown in many trials to significantly reduce the risk
of fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events, heart failure and renal
failure, he said.

“However, as most trials were three to five years in duration, whether
there are long-lasting effects on life expectancy from treating
hypertension has not been well-studied,” Fonarow said.

This study provides further compelling evidence of the enduring
benefits of treating hypertension, Fonarow said.

“With over half of the 76 million men and women in the United States
who have hypertension not having their blood pressure well-controlled,
improved detection, treatment and control of hypertension is imperative,”
he added.

More information

For more information on high blood pressure, visit the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/treating-high-blood-pressure-may-add-years-life-210409731.html


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