High blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors for heart attacks and strokes (stroke), but it is unclear who needs drugs to treat these conditions, according to a recent report.
According to a new Consumer Reports review, patients should consider these factors when deciding whether to take these medications:
Rate your risk. All people over the age of 40 should know what their 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Ideally, it should be less than 7.5 percent. Consumer Reports recommends to use a calculator developed by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association to determine your risk.
Do not be in a hurry to take the medication. Making some changes in lifestyle could be enough to manage a slightly high blood pressure or cholesterol level. Exercise alone can significantly improve blood pressure, the review said.
Get the right medication. If your doctor determines that you need a medication, choose the safest option that is available. Diuretics, or liquid-removing pills, may be effective in managing hypertension. This medicine may also be used with other medicines, such as an ACE inhibitor or a calcium channel blocker. Low doses of statins, such as lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), or simvastatin (Zocor) may also help prevent a first heart attack or stroke, the authors said.
The report was published online April 6 and in the May issue of Consumer Reports.
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