High BP ups deaths from heart attacks

A study has established an association between detection of hypertension and death rates from coronary heart disease.

The University of Leicester study has also revealed that the country you live in could affect your risk of dying from a heart attack.

The Leicester team, analysed whether variations in deaths between different parts of the country could be explained by characteristics of primary health care services (such as numbers of doctors, performance against national targets), as well as by characteristics of the population, such as deprivation, lifestyle (such as smoking), or the numbers of people with diabetes.

Lead research and report author Steve Levene, of the University of Leicester, said: "We found that population characteristics were most important, including deprivation; however, 10 per cent of the variation was also explained by how successful primary care services are at detecting people who have high blood pressure (hypertension). People who have hypertension are at greater risk of having heart attacks."

"We found that higher proportions of white individuals, higher levels of deprivation, higher levels of diabetes, higher proportions of smokers, and lower levels of detected hypertension were associated with higher levels of coronary heart disease mortality.

"This is important because it suggests ways in which we can reduce deaths from coronary heart disease. Greater detection of hypertension may reduce deaths from heart attacks," he said.

Levene said the new study was important since it shows a practical way to reduce deaths from heart attack that can be implemented now at a relatively lower cost.

It also suggested that medical practitioners and policy makers need to make better contact with the whole population, rather than just those individuals whose diseases are known about.

Their findings were published in the JAMA.