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Big swings in blood pressure may indicate heart problems

Blood pressure should remain relatively stable over time, regardless of a diagnosis of high blood pressure.

By Stephen Feller
Big swings in blood pressure may indicate heart problems
Blood pressure should remain relatively stable over time, even if it is high. Photo by Red On/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) -- Large swings in blood pressure may be indicative of damage to the arteries, heart disease or heart failure, according a large study of patients taking blood pressure medications.

While about 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure, which can be indicative of the same conditions, blood pressure should remain stable over time.

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Researchers in the study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, reviewed data from the Antihypertensive and Lipid-Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial, or ALLHAT, a large review of patients being treated with blood pressure medications for patients who experience some type of cardiac event.

The 25,814 participants in the study had blood pressure measurements taken during 7 visits over the course of 28 months, and at the end of the study patients were then followed to see if they developed cardiovascular disease or died.

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After analyzing the 1,948 deaths, 606 strokes, 921 heart failure events, and 1,194 fatal coronary heart disease or nonfatal myocardial infarction events during the course of the ALLHAT study, the researchers found that those participants whose blood pressure varied widely from visit to visit were more likely to experience a cardiac event of some sort. Additionally, the greater the variation in blood pressure, the greater the risk of experiencing one of those events.

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"Patients should have their blood pressure controlled," Paul Muntner, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Alabama School of Public Health at Birmingham, told HealthDay. "They should be aware that their blood pressure changes, and if there is a lot of variation, they might want to talk with their doctor about why it's changing."

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