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Blood pressure treatments save 70,000 lives each year

Tens of thousands of lives have been saved since the 1990s because patients with high blood pressure have been diagnosed and treated more effectively.

A study using data from five Health Survey for England polls meant that experts were researching and analysing trends in blood pressure treatment.

Professor Neil Poulter, one of the researchers from Imperial College London, said that the steady progress had resulted in the prevention of around 70,000 cardiovascular events such as heart attacks in 2011.He added, “The 70,000 is an estimated one-year effect, whereby if 2011 practice had been applied in 1994 we estimate there would have been about 70,000 fewer cardiovascular events in 1994.”

“If we continue at the current linear rate of improvement, then by the year 2022, there’ll be about 50,000 fewer major events compared with 2011 as a result. These estimates are the result of treating more people who need it, more effectively.”

Around 30 percent of people in England have high blood pressure, the biggest risk factor for conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, cancer and even early death. Experts say increasing use of a wide range of effective drugs, and awareness campaigns are starting to pay off.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is wide-spread amongst the UK population, with patients advised to eat less salt, lose weight, drink less alcohol, eat more fruit and veg and exercise more.

Study leader Emanuela Falaschetti said there was cause for optimism amongst high blood pressure patients. “Whereas once…half the general population with high blood pressure were diagnosed, half of those detected were treated and half of those treated had the condition under control – now management of the condition is better than the rule of two-thirds.”

Richard McManus of Oxford University and Jonathan Mant of Cambridge University wrote in the Lancet Journal, “After 50 years of treatment, it seems that the drugs are working.”

The Stroke Association’s Dr Shamim Quadir said the study showed ‘great progress’, but added, “The rates of diagnosis, treatment and control of raised blood pressure in England are still too low compared with other countries, such as Canada.”

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