24 March 2010

When Heart Is in Crisis, High Blood Pressure a Good Sign

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Study finds better survival rates a year after intensive care

High blood pressure -- even above the level ordinarily regarded as dangerous -- is a good indicator of long-term survival for people admitted to an intensive care unit because of chest pains that indicate a major heart problem, Swedish researchers report.

Their study, which involved 119,151 people admitted to ICUs for chest pain between 1997 and 2007, found the best one-year survival rate among those who had a systolic pressure (the higher of the recommended 120/80 number) at or above 163, according to a report in the March 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was conducted at Swedish hospitals by physicians at Linkoping University.

Survival was poorest for the one-quarter of people who had the lowest blood pressure readings, less than 128 systolic, the study found. Their one-year death rate was 40.3 percent higher than for those in the next category up, with a systolic pressure of 128 to 144.

Overall, as blood pressure levels rose, the one-year death rate declined. Compared with people with a systolic reading of 128 to 144, those with readings between 145 and 162 had a 15.2 percent lower death rate, and people in the highest category, with a systolic reading of 163 or greater, had a 21.7 percent lower death rate.


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