Up to half of the adult population should be offered cheap blood pressure medications to cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes, says an Oxford University study.
Cardiologists say the widespread use of such drugs could save millions of lives.
Each 10mmHg drop in systolic pressure was found to lower the risk of heart attack by one fifth, stroke by one quarter, and death from all causes by 13 percent.
Professor Kazem Rahimi from the George Institute for Global Health at Oxford University said: "Our findings clearly show that treating blood pressure to a lower level than currently recommended could greatly reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and potentially save millions of lives if the treatment was widely implemented."
"The results provide strong support for reducing systolic blood pressure to less than 130 mmHg, and blood pressure-lowering drugs should be offered to all patients at high risk of having a heart attack or stroke, whatever their reason for being at risk," he said.