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
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
"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 years."
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 said.
"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 age.
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 placebo.
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,
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.
For more information on high blood pressure, visit the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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