Current guidelines – issued by England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – suggest patients should only take medication when their blood pressure levels reach 140 mmHg.
They found those patients at highest risk – including smokers with high cholesterol levels and people over 65s with diabetes – would benefit most from treatment, lowering their chance of heart attacks and strokes.
The study also adds to growing evidence that patients may benefit from lowering their blood pressure whatever their baseline levels – either through lifestyle changes or drugs.
But he warned: “One important caveat is that not everyone will be able to tolerate having their blood pressure reduced to low levels, and there is a need to balance possible drug side effects and likely benefits.”
More lives could be saved if doctors considered giving blood pressure drugs to all patients at high risk of heart disease – even if their blood pressures are normal, a study suggests.