Blood pressure: 'Extraordinary' number of lives saved

By James Gallagher
Health and science reporter, BBC News

image sourceSPL

Improved treatment of blood pressure has prevented hundreds of thousands of heart attacks, strokes and deaths in England, say doctors.

The team at Imperial College London analysed national health survey data between 1994 and 2011.

Their analysis, published in the Lancet medical journal, showed more people were being treated, and more effectively, than two decades ago.

They said continuing improvements would save yet more lives.

Their analysis showed that the number of people with high blood pressure who were getting treatment had nearly doubled from 32% in 1994 to 58% in 2011.

At the same time, the proportion of people who were getting their blood pressure back to normal levels trebled from 11% to 37%.

"If we treated people in 1994 like we did in 2011, we reckon that would have saved up to 100,000 major events (heart attacks, strokes and deaths)," Prof Neil Poulter, one of the researchers, told the BBC.

He added: "It's going extraordinarily well really, it's a hell of a lot of lives saved."

The study estimates that 80% of patients will be controlling their blood pressure by 2022 if the current rate of improvement continues.

Better drugs, increased awareness and financial incentives for doctors are thought to be behind the improvement.

Heart disease is still the UK's biggest killer, causing 82,000 deaths each year.

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