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Paper of the Day - Women with high normal BP run 64% increased risk of major cardiovascular event

Women with ‘high normal' blood pressure of 130-139/80-89mmHg have a greatly increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or having a heart attack or stroke, according to a study of 39,322 initially healthy women.

Researchers from the US Women's Health study found that those with high normal BP were 64% more likely to have a major cardiovascular event than those with normal blood pressure, and nearly double those with optimal (low) blood pressure.

Nearly two-thirds of those with high normal hypertension developed hypertension over 10 years, compared to 34% of those whose blood pressure was initially normal.

The researchers behind the study, from Harvard medical school, said women who progress to classical hypertension need to be identified early, as the risk of an adverse cardiovascular event increases shortly after diagnosis.

They say aggressive lifestyle intervention aimed at lowering blood pressure should be aimed at women with high normal blood pressure but there was no evidence with hard outcomes to support use of drug treatment.

BMJ Online First, August 20

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