Stroke prevention is one of the main reasons doctors cite for putting their patients on blood pressure drugs.
High blood pressure, they say, can lead to the brain bleeds that cause strokes.
But a new study shows that in certain situations having high blood pressure can actually save your life.
The research comes from the University of Georgia. Scientists there wanted to find out what would be the optimal blood pressure level for someone who has had a stroke.1
They looked at the medical records of more than 4,000 stroke patients. A portion of the patients were given extensive treatment for high blood pressure (hypertension). The rest were given no treatment.
The researchers noted all the patients’ blood pressure changes during their first week in the hospital. They compared the patients’ post-stroke health at one week, three months, one year, and two years.
It turns out that the patients who fared the best had high blood pressure. Their systolic pressure (the upper number) was about 140 mmHg. Fewer of them suffered a second stroke, heart disease, or death. Under current guidelines, a systolic reading of 140 is considered high and requires medication. Blood pressure of 120/80 or less is considered ideal.2
When High Blood Pressure Is a Good Thing
Professor Changwei Li led the study. The findings show that blood pressure drugs may do more harm than good in people who have had a stroke or who are at high risk for one. For these patients, it’s best to maintain blood pressure closer to 140/90 than 120/80, he said.3
Making it lower undercuts the body’s attempt to maintain proper blood flow into the brain, the study found.
The study comes on the heels of other recent research showing that lowering blood pressure too far with drugs can be dangerous. It can lead to dizziness and serious falls that cause injury or death.
If you’re on blood pressure meds and you’ve had a stroke, show your doctor this article. You’ll want to make sure that your hypertension is not being overcorrected. You may need to reduce your dosage or even stop taking blood pressure drugs.
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