Normal blood pressure could add years to your life

07/05/05

People in their 50s who have normal blood pressure could live up to five years longer than those with hypertension (high blood pressure), an international study has found.

The study, which has been published in the current issue of Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, tracked 3128 people who celebrated their 50th birthday while enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, which looks at risk factors for heart disease.

It was the first study of a large and continuously monitored group showing the effect of high blood pressure on life expectancy overall and on life expectancy in people with cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke.

The research showed that people with normal blood pressure lived five years longer on average than people with high blood pressure and on average developed cardiovascular disease (or died) 7.2 years later.

The study also found that people with normal blood pressure developed cardiovascular disease later in life than people with high blood pressure.

Research team member Dr Anna Peeters, from the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, said the study provided clear evidence that preventing high blood pressure could prolong life and lead to a better quality of life in later years.

"What is really surprising is the unexpectedly large number of years difference in life expectancy between those with hypertension and those without," she said.

"And while those with lower blood pressure lived longer, they also lived healthier lives."

"So, by preventing hypertension you would have a much higher life expectancy and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease," Dr Peeters said.

The study was based at Erasmus University Rotterdam, in The Netherlands and involved members from Monash University, the Federal Knowledge Center for Health Care in Belgium, and the Scientific Institute of Public Health, Belgium.

The Framingham Heart Study was started in Massachusetts in 1948 to look at risk factors for heart disease.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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