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Blood pressure news
Proof that lowering blood pressure and cholesterol together saves lives
Taking two medicines to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, along with taking low-dose aspirin, dramatically reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke for people with heart disease or diabetes. A long-term, large-scale trial has shown that this approach can slash the risk by more than 60 per cent. And the benefits increase the more faithfully the medications are taken.
Heart disease and stroke are the biggest killers of people with established heart disease or diabetes. It has always been thought that lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure at the same time would dramatically reduce the risk of death from stroke or heart attack in this group of people, but no long-term, large-scale trials have been carried out before to prove it.
This study followed more than 170,000 people who:
- had either diabetes, heart disease, or both
- were encouraged to take daily low-dose aspirin
- were given a statin to lower their cholesterol level
- were given an ACE inhibitor to lower their blood pressure
The researchers measured how often people took their medications over the space of two years by checking how they refilled their prescriptions. Then, in the third year, they looked at how many people had to go to hospital because of a stroke or heart attack.
At the end of the study, the researchers identified three main groups:
- Didn't take their medication - this group of 101,464 people choose not to take both the statin or ACE inhibitor or took just one of them
- Took their medication sometimes - this group of 47,268 people took both their cholesterol lowering medication and their blood pressure medicine, but on an infrequent basis - less than half the time
- Regular takers of their medication - this group of 21,292 people took their ACE inhibitor and their statin on a regular basis - more than half the time.
The risk of having a stroke or heart attack was directly related to how often people took their medications:
- People who took their medication sometimes had a 60 per cent lower risk than people who never took their tablets
- People who took their medication regularly had a more than 60 per cent lower risk than people who never took their tablets.
In addition, side-effects, such as muscle aches caused by statins, were found at the same rate as would be expected if the drugs were being taken separately.
This study appears to show that taking both a statin and a blood pressure lowering medication (along with low-dose aspirin) is a highly effective and safe treatment for people with diabetes or established heart disease.
Kaiser Permanente Press Release: Bundling 2 low-cost heart drugs prevents heart attack and stroke in large, diverse population.
Topics: Research, High Blood Pressure in the news, Medicines, High blood pressure