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Pressure spikes cause stroke

People with occasional spikes in their blood pressure could be at higher risk of having a stroke than those with regularly high blood pressure, new studies say.

In four articles published in the medical journals Lancet and Lancet Neurology, European researchers suggest current guidelines for treating people with high blood pressure need to be revised.

In one of the studies, Peter Rothwell of the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at John Radcliff e Hospital in Oxford, Britain, tracked about 8,000 patients who had had a heart attack. They found patients who had consistently variable blood pressure rates were at least six times more likely to have a stroke than those with regularly high blood pressure.

“We tend to believe average underlying blood pressure rates and ignore occasional high rates as blips,” Rothwell said. “But it turns out they are very informative and that these people, who are mostly not treated for hypertension, could be at high risk of having a stroke.”

In two other studies, Rothwell and colleagues examined the effects of diff erent blood pressure drugs. They found the drugs that reduced occasional spikes in blood pressure rates the best were the most effective at preventing strokes. (AP)

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