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Even high-normal blood pressure is too high

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10:25am, October 31, 2001

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and doctors routinely recommend medication to reduce it. A new finding raises the possibility that people with blood pressure at the high end of what is considered the normal range should receive similar treatment.

Individuals with systolic pressure at or above 140 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) or diastolic blood pressure at or above 90 mmHg are considered to have high blood pressure, also called hypertension. Systolic is the maximum pressure reached with each pulse of blood, and diastolic is the minimum pressure between pulses.

A study published in the Nov. 1 New England Journal of Medicine finds an elevated risk of strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure among patients without hypertension but with systolic blood pressure between 130 and 139 mmHg or diastolic pressure between 85 and 89 mmHg.

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