On the agenda - Blood pressure drugs for over-55s

In a nutshell Everyone aged 55 and over should be taking drugs to lower their blood pressure, even if their current reading is normal, an expert has recommended. Professor Malcolm Law said the drugs lowered the risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke, regardless of a person's blood pressure reading.

Blood pressure: drugs for over 55s
Blood pressure: drugs for over 55s

Why is this a story?
The research found that drugs such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors reduce the risk of heart attacks by around a quarter, and stroke by around a third. In an accompanying editorial, other researchers said the findings supported the idea of giving everyone over a certain age a ‘polypill' - a drug that would include a statin to lower cholesterol as well as treatment for blood pressure.

What is the background?
The finding, based on a review of almost 150 studies, was published in the British Medical Journal. Law and colleagues collated the findings from the largest review yet of clinical trials involving blood pressure drugs.

Media coverage
The story was picked up by the BBC website, The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 News. The Daily Mail covered the story and ran with the headline: ‘Blood pressure drugs should be given to everyone over 55.'

PR support
The story was sent out as part of the British Medical Journal's weekly press release to journalists. The Stroke Association's in-house team was consequently contacted by the media for additional comment.

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