In recent decades, the medical community has learned to better manage high blood pressure (HBP), the top risk factor for strokes and heart attacks, resulting in fewer people diagnosed with HBP. Still, many who technically had low blood pressure maintained an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), high cholesterol and diabetes.

That’s why researchers began rethinking how we approach the disease. New research from Gabriel S. Tajeu, assistant professor of health services administration and policy, builds on previous landmark studies such as the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation-3 trial (HOPE-3) and the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) that pushed for re-evaluation of the way we detect and treat CVD. Thanks to this body of evidence, the American Heart Association lowered the threshold for HBP classification in November 2017.

Tajeu and a team of researchers surveyed more than 31,000 people who were recruited in the early- to mid-2000s for large cohort studies and who hadn’t had any CVD events such as heart attack or stroke. They obtained baseline demographic and clinical information from the cohorts and measured participants’ blood pressure over an average of 7.5 years.

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