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Blood pressure drugs for over-55s

An expert has said people over 55 should take drugs to lower their blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke.

According to Professor Malcolm Law, who published a review of 150 studies, people should still be taking the drugs even if their blood pressure reading is normal as it will help reduce the risk of associated health problems.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), show most types of drugs used to treat blood pressure had similar effects, cutting the risk of heart attacks and heart failure by around a quarter and the risk of stroke by about a third. These findings were based on lowering systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg or diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg.

Prof Law said: "Beyond a certain age, we are saying everyone would benefit from taking drugs that lower blood pressure.

"After a certain age, we all have high blood pressure and we would all benefit from lowering it. What we call normal blood pressure is actually high, and what we call high blood pressure is actually higher."

He added that people should not be afraid of taking drugs because of claims that the population is being "medicalised".

Copyright © Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"I am 58 and my blood pressure tends to rise with stress but taking medications make it worse with side-effects so I'm trying other alternative like healthy living." - Lana Bhantooa, Guernsey

"I agree with Celine Barr that blanket meds are dangerous. ACE inhibitors for example have lots of side effects and there is no conclusive evidence as yet that they reduce mortality" - Sally Moore, Scotland

"Everyone needs assessing. I am 55 and I have low blood pressure so given blanket medication is dangerous." - Celine Barr, N Ireland