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Cut Heart Disease and Stroke Risk by Maintaining Blood Pressure

Update Date: Nov 22, 2013 02:50 PM EST

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major contributor to cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Even though high blood pressure can affect all people, overweight and obese patients have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke due to their health condition. In order to reduce these risks, a new study is reporting that overweight and obese people with hypertension should maintain their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

"The glass is kind of half empty and half full," the lead researcher, Goodarz Danaei, an assistant professor of global health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, MA, said according to USA Today.

The research team from Harvard, The Imperial College Long and the University of Sydney examined data on 1.8 million people from 97 different studies conducted throughout the world. The team used body mass index (BMI) measurements to compare normal-weight participants to overweight or obese participants. The team focused on people around that same age and sex.

The researchers calculated that people who were overweight or obese with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood glucose levels had a 76 percent extra risk of stroke and 46 percent extra risk of heart disease. When the researchers looked at the effects of high blood pressure alone in the overweight and obese adults, they found an extra risk of 65 percent for stroke and an extra 31 percent risk for heart disease.

Without the three health conditions, being overweight increased the risk of a heart attack by 26 percent and increased the risk of a stroke by 13 percent. The researchers reported that treating all three conditions could reduce an overweight individual's risk of heart attack to 13 percent. For obese people, the risks of heart disease and stroke are 69 percent and 47 percent respectively. Treating the conditions would reduce the risk of a heart attack from 69 percent to 39 percent and risk of stroke from 47 percent to 14 percent for obese people.

Even though cholesterol and glucose levels affected individual's risks for the two health conditions, the researchers reported that high blood pressure appeared to contribute the most to heart disease and stroke. Overweight and obese people are recommended to control and lower their blood pressure levels.

The researchers remind people that losing weight in general will help improve overall health and reduce risks of diseases. The study was publsihed in The Lancet.

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