Stopping BP Medication Ups Stroke Risk

Patients with high blood pressure who stop taking their medication run a significantly higher risk for stroke caused by intracerebral hemorrhage than those who keep taking antihypertensives. And the risk is increased further by two factors: age under 55 and smoking.

Stroke is caused by a clot or blockage in a cerebral artery, or by a bleed from one of these arteries. High blood pressure can trigger such a bleed. Antihypertensive medications help patients to bring high blood pressure under control, reducing the risk of an intracerebral hemorrhage. Still, some patients either forget or refuse to take their medications, against their doctor's advice. Up till now, no study had determined the inherent risks of this type of patient 'non-compliance.'

While patients on pressure-lowering medications still faced double the stroke risk of healthy controls, patients who abandoned these medications had nearly five times the risk, the study authors say. They speculate that the thinning of the arterial wall that occurs with the use of many antihypertensive (drugs) might render the wall more subject to injury when exposed to the high pressure that may occur when medications are ceased.

The Australian team note that the stroke risk associated with stopping hypertension medication appears to be even higher -- almost eight times higher in patients under the age of 55 years than in older patients. This phenomenon might be explained by the vascular thickening that accompanies aging.

Hypertension 1998;31:1223-1229.

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

As mentioned above, calcium channel blockers are dangerous and should be stopped. However, it is important to do this while being monitored by a physician. It is very clear that your risk for stroke and probable permanent brain damage will be significantly increased if this is not done properly.

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