High blood pressure: Study backs more aggressive treatment

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Blood Pressure

WASHINGTON — A major new study shows treating high blood pressure more aggressively than usual cuts the risk of heart disease and death in people over age 50.

The National Institutes of Health announced Friday that preliminary results showed such strong benefits, it was stopping the research about a year early.

People are diagnosed with high blood pressure once their readings hit or pass a measurement of 140 over 90. How tightly to control hypertension, especially as people get older, is controversial. Patients often are advised just to get the top number below 140. The new study suggests people should aim to get near normal — below 120.

Tighter control required an average of about three medications, one more than required for patients who aimed to reach the below-140 target.