Fluctuating Blood Pressure Increases Risk of Stroke

Fluctuating Blood Pressure Increases Risk of Stroke

Hypertension sufferers take note… recent study findings have some pretty important implications for those trying to manage their condition and avoid an increased risk of stroke.

A large five-year study finds that fluctuations in blood pressure over time may be a key indicator of stroke risk.

In the research, a British team of experts tracked the health of over 19,000 patients who were taking either beta blockers or calcium channel blocker medications to manage hypertension.

Patients who were in the highest 10% in terms of swings in blood pressure readings between visits to the doctor had almost four times the risk of stroke as those whose readings didn’t vary so much. The results were the same when the researchers looked at the subjects’ risks for heart attack.

Subjects who took calcium channel blockers had a 22% lower risk of stroke vs. those who took beta blocker medications. The differences in readings between the two groups seemed to explain the difference in risk.

This research findings echo those of a total of four other studies published peer reviewed journals. These studies found that those with the biggest variation in systolic pressure (the top number) over seven visits to their doctor were six times more likely to have a major stroke. Earlier work had looked at short-term variability (24 hours) but this time the researchers examined visit-to-visit variability of readings. Those with the highest blood pressure readings were a whopping 15 times more likely to suffer a stroke.

Everyone is now wondering if recommendations for the treatment of high blood pressure should change.

To date most doctors haven’t been too concerned about variation in blood pressure readings, or the maximum pressure reading for a patient, but this could change based on the latest research.

It may well be that random variations in blood pressure cannot be ignored as they’re telling you something about risk.

This might be especially important if you’re over 55 years old, the age group that makes up 80% of those with hypertension.

More research will surely follow, but this work certainly should have you taking your high blood pressure treatment seriously and talking to your doctor about any variations in your own readings in case of an increased risk of stroke.