Q: I take medication to lower my blood pressure, which is now under control. Are my risks for heart attack and stroke as low as if I never had hypertension?
A: Reducing high blood pressure (hypertension), by whatever means, will lower your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that lowering blood pressure by even five or six points substantially reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.
It’s difficult to say if bringing your blood pressure down to normal levels will bring you back to “low risk,” though. If you had uncontrolled hypertension for many years, you’re likely to still be at higher risk than someone who has always had normal blood pressure. It also depends on how high your blood pressure was and how well you keep it under control. Over time, high blood pressure can cause arteries to harden and narrow. It’s great that you have lowered your blood pressure—that’s a huge step in protecting your health. Remember, however, even if your drug is doing the trick, it’s still beneficial to take heart-healthy steps such as exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and eating lots of fruits and vegetables.