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Treating High Blood Pressure Cuts Stroke Risk

Posted - Jun. 21, 2004 at 4:40 p.m.



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People with high blood pressure are at greater risk for a bleeding stroke.

Treating hypertension could pre-vent one-fourth of bleeding strokes in the United States each year, says Dr. Daniel Woo, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati and lead author of a study reported in recent issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. Woo and his colleagues found that the risk of hemorrhagic stroke among people with untreated hypertension was 3.7 times greater than that for the general population in and around Cincinnati. The risk for the treated population was 1.4 times higher.

An estimated 700,000 Americans have strokes each year; about 20 percent of them - 140,000 - are caused by bleeding in the brain as opposed to blood clots.

"We estimate that 17 to 28 percent of hemorrhagic strokes among hypertensive patients would have been prevented if they had been on any kind of hypertension treatment," says Woo, who studied 549 patients treated for bleeding strokes at 16 hospitals within a 50-mile radius of Cincinnati.

He says the benefit is "nearly identical" no matter which class of drugs are used to treat the high blood pressure: ACE inhibitors, Beta blockers, calcium channel blockers or diuretics.

While a minority of strokes are caused by bleeding, almost half of people who have a hemorrhagic stroke die, and many of the survivors are left with significant disabilities and often need nursing home care.

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ONLINE: American Heart Association: www.americanheart.org

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(c) 2004, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

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