Lower systolic blood pressure may lead to lower risk of common heart complication

By Rebecca Burton • Published: January 6th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

High blood pressure leads to health complications such as heart attack, stroke and chronic kidney disease. Doctors have known that lowering systolic blood pressure, the upper number in a blood pressure reading, can help reverse certain heart problems. However, they weren’t sure if lowering blood pressure beyond the recommended 140 would further reduce the risk these complications.

A study led by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center provides evidence that patients who undergo intensive blood pressure treatment to lower their systolic blood pressure have a 39 percent lower risk of developing the most common heart problem facing Americans.

When a participant’s systolic blood pressure was lowered to 120, it reduced the risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy, or the thickening or hardening of the heart’s pumping chamber. This complication can lead to heart failure, stroke and sudden cardiac death.

To conduct the study, researchers collected data from 4,331 participants undergoing blood pressure treatment. The patients included middle-aged and older patients with Type 2 diabetes who were at risk for cardiovascular disease. About half of the participants were randomly prescribed intensive treatment, while the others received the traditional regimen. After four years, results showed those undergoing intensive therapy had a significantly lower risk of developing left ventricular hypertrophy.

The CDC says high blood pressure is known as the silent killer, often showing no obvious symptoms. Experts say the only way to know if you have it is to get a reading by your doctor.

Exercise, medications and reducing sodium in the diet are all ways to maintain a healthy blood pressure.