Cardiology

Advice shifting on aspirin use for preventing heart attacks

Older adults without heart disease shouldn't take daily low-dose aspirin to prevent a first heart attack or stroke, an influential health guidelines group said in preliminary updated advice released Tuesday.

Neuroscience

Optimal blood pressure helps our brains age more slowly

People with elevated blood pressure that falls within the normal recommended range are at risk of accelerated brain aging, according to new research from The Australian National University (ANU).

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Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. Blood pressure involves two measurements, systolic and diastolic, which depend on whether the heart muscle is contracting (systole) or relaxed (diastole) between beats. Normal blood pressure is at or below 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is said to be present if it is persistently at or above 140/90 mmHg.

Hypertension is classified as either primary (essential) hypertension or secondary hypertension; about 90–95% of cases are categorized as "primary hypertension" which means high blood pressure with no obvious underlying medical cause. The remaining 5–10% of cases (secondary hypertension) are caused by other conditions that affect the kidneys, arteries, heart or endocrine system.

Hypertension is a major risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), heart failure, aneurysms of the arteries (e.g. aortic aneurysm), peripheral arterial disease and is a cause of chronic kidney disease. Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure is associated with a shortened life expectancy. Dietary and lifestyle changes can improve blood pressure control and decrease the risk of associated health complications, although drug treatment is often necessary in patients for whom lifestyle changes prove ineffective or insufficient.

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