This Common Medication Could Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk, New Study Finds
New research has found that another medication may be helpful for heart health.
Someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even if it's not fatal, a heart attack can cause irreversible damage to your body—which means preventing one from happening ahead of time is extremely important. Countless adults over the years have turned to aspirin as a preventative measure against heart attacks, but new guidance warns against using the OTC pain reliever regularly due to its harmful side effects. Fortunately, new research has found that a different medication could actually protect you against a heart attack. Read on to find out which common medication can reduce your heart attack risk, and for more on your heart health, If You Take This Popular Supplement, Your Heart May Be at Risk, Study Says.
Blood pressure medication can reduce your heart attack risk even if you don't have high blood pressure.
Researchers sought to determine how blood pressure medication could impact heart health, publishing their meta-analysis May 1 in the journal The Lancet. The researchers analyzed data from 48 trials that included more than 344,700 participants, and found that each 5 mm Hg (millimeters of mercury) reduction in systolic blood pressure reduced someone's risk of heart attack by about 10 percent—even if they had normal blood pressure levels and no history of heart disease.
"Our study fills the aforementioned gaps in evidence and provides compelling evidence from randomized trials for the beneficial effects of blood pressure-lowering treatment across the spectrum of systolic blood pressure in people with or without a known diagnosis of cardiovascular disease," the researchers explained in the study. They also said their findings "dismiss the suggestions that blood pressure-lowering treatment is only effective when blood pressure is above a certain threshold." And for more medication intel you need, If You Take This Medication, Call Your Doctor Now, FDA Warns.
It could also help reduce your risk of other heart-related problems.
The researchers found that after a four-year follow-up, nearly 43,330 participants had a cardiovascular event, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or cardiac-related death. However, they found that each 5 mm Hg reduction in systolic blood pressure through blood pressure medication could also reduce some of the risk for these other health problems. According to the study, blood pressure reduction led to a 10 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, 13 percent lower risk of stroke, 13 percent lower risk of heart failure, 8 percent decrease in ischemic heart disease, and 5 percent decrease in cardiovascular disease.
"Across primary and secondary prevention groups (those with a history of heart disease and those without) and across all baseline blood pressures, there was a consistent risk reduction of vascular events with blood pressure lowering," Judith Meadows, MD, an associate professor of medicine in the section of cardiovascular medicine at Yale School of Medicine, told Healthline. And for more on risk factors to know, If You See This on Your Skin, Your Heart Attack Risk Is Higher, Study Says.
Researchers say this may specifically help those already at risk for heart disease.
The researchers say these findings may be beneficial for people who are already at risk for heart disease but have normal blood pressure and no history of heart disease. According to the CDC, risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and obesity. "Defining those increased risks remains important and requires careful consideration by patients and doctors before starting treatment based on this meta-analysis," Steven Schiff, MD, a cardiologist and medical director of invasive cardiology for MemorialCare Heart & Vascular Institute, explained to Healthline. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.
This doesn't necessarily mean you'll be put on blood pressure medication, however.
If you have normal blood pressure, don't expect for your doctor to go ahead and put you on blood pressure medication just as a preventative measure against heart attacks, however. In fact, Meadows told Healthline that "dedicated trials should be designed to address the question of blood pressure lowering in those with blood pressures" that are in the normal range. After all, there are side effects from blood pressure-lowering medications like dizziness, fainting, or unpredictable cough, Schiff notes. Also, doctors have to be careful not to lower blood pressure too drastically if they're treating people with normal blood pressure, Joseph Alpert, MD, a professor of medicine and a cardiologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told Healthline. And for more health concerns, If You Notice This With Your Eyes, Get Your Thyroid Checked, Doctors Say.