High blood pressure is the most significant risk factor for atrial fibrillation arrhythmia and therefore its reduction is important. According to a recent study, the best results are obtained if the treatment is intensive and the goal is systolic blood pressure below 120 mmHg.

The results, published in the journal Hypertension, are based on a large SPRINT study, which showed that those receiving intensive care had a 25% lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation than those receiving standard blood pressure treatment (target less than 140 mmHg). This was observed in a five-year follow-up in patients with high blood pressure and at increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The effects of intensive care on atrial fibrillation risk have been studied in the past, but previous studies have been smaller or their treatment goals have been more moderate. Blood pressure is the most common and important risk factor for atrial fibrillation.

The study involved 8,000 patients, half of whom were randomized to intensive and half to standard blood pressure treatment. During follow-up, 88 patients in the intensive care group and 118 in the standard treatment group developed atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation affects one in ten people over the age of 65. About one in a thousand people under the age of 40 get it every year. Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of cerebrovascular disorders in particular and causes, among other things, palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue.

About half of Finnish men and a third of women suffer from high blood pressure.