High Blood Pressure Still Increases Stroke Risk

Blood pressure that is high but still normal substantially increases stroke risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Patients with normal blood pressure that are considered prehypertensive still have a substantially higher risk of having a stroke, research has revealed.

As compared to those without prehypertension, the risk of stroke for those who have high but normal blood pressure, is increased by 55 percent.

"Get blood pressure check ups, often."

Prehypertension is clinical category created in 2003 to describe patients whose blood pressure was elevated, but still considered within normal range.  Less is known about the health threat related to prehypertension.

Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, a professor of neurosciences at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and senior author of the study, said that experts have reasoned that the higher the blood pressure, the greater the risk of death and disease, possibly starting from within the normal blood pressure range.

Researchers reviewed 12 studies of prehypertension, of which four were from the United States, five from Japan, two from China and one from India.  More than 518,000 participants were included in the studies that ranged from 2.7 years to 32 years with documentations of the occurrences of stroke.

They found the prevalence of prehypertension ranged from 25 percent to 46 percent, with about a third of adults in the United States estimated to have prehypertension.

Investigators found that those with prehypertension were at a higher risk of stroke regardless of sex, race, blood pressure type or the type of stroke. They found that individuals who fell at the higher range of prehypertension were at a 79 percent increased risk of experiencing a stroke.

Dr. Ovbiagele said the findings should clarify the risks of prehypertension.  He noted that the term prehypertension had been controversial in that some in the medical profession had worried it would label healthy people as sick without a compelling reason to do so.

Researchers hope the results will encourage those with prehypertension to change unhealthy behaviors by modifying salt intake, maintaining a normal weight and getting regular blood pressure checks.

The review study was published in the Sept. 28 issue of the journal Neurology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 30, 2011
Last Updated:
September 30, 2011