Blood pressure – when to treat and how low should you go?

People at risk of heart attacks may benefit from aiming for lower blood pressure readings. 

Research fellow Dr Emily Atkins and Professor Vlado Perkovic from The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney review the latest recommendations for blood pressure management in the August edition of Australian Prescriber

“There have been a number of studies looking at the link between blood pressure and ‘cardiovascular events’, which are incidents like heart attacks that may cause damage to the heart muscle,” says Dr Atkins. 

“The most recent large clinical trial with people at risk of heart problems was stopped early when it was clear that people aiming for a lower blood pressure fared best,” she says. 

“Guidelines recommend at what blood pressure you should start taking blood pressure lowering medicines. If you are at higher risk of heart problems, depending on your precise situation, you may benefit from starting to take medicines at a lower blood pressure and aiming for a lower target,” says Dr Atkins. 

“As always, when starting medicines for blood pressure, it is important for you and your doctor to consider your lifestyle, your treatment preferences and your cardiovascular risk when choosing your target.”

Read the full article.


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Australian Prescriber is an independent peer-reviewed journal providing critical commentary on therapeutic topics for health professionals. It is published by NPS MedicineWise, an independent, not-for-profit organisation for quality use of medicines funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. Australian Prescriber is published every two months and is available online at