Variability as Well as High Blood Pressure Holds High Risk of Stroke

(ScienceDaily) Three papers published at the same time in The Lancet, and a further study in The Lancet Neurology, show that it is variability in patients’ blood pressure that predicts the risk of a stroke most powerfully and not a high average or usual blood pressure level.

The results of the studies, led by Professor Peter Rothwell and colleagues at the University of Oxford, have major implications for the diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure in prevention of stroke and heart disease.

‘Raised blood pressure, or hypertension, accounts for over 50% of the risk of stroke and other vascular events in the population,’ says Professor Rothwell of the Department of Clinical Neurology.

‘It has long been believed that it is the underlying average blood pressure that determines most of the risk of complications from hypertension and all of the benefit from the drugs that are used to lower blood pressure. The work that we have done shows that this hypothesis is only partly true – at least when it comes to stroke, the most common complication of hypertension,’ he adds.

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