The new study, by a group of Miami and Columbia University researchers, involved 1,706 people older than 60 in the Northern Manhattan Study in New York City. None of the participants had a previous stroke, diabetes or kidney disease.

After adjustment for age, sex, ethnicity and use of blood pressure medications, stroke risk was 70 percent higher for people with systolic pressure in the 140-149 range.

The elevated stroke rate for people in the 140-149 range is close to the 80 percent higher risk the study found for people with systolic readings at or above 150.

Among people in the study, 20 percent had systolic readings of 140-149, and 37 percent had readings of 150 or greater. About 40 percent of the subjects were taking blood pressure medicine.

The study found that compared with those whose readings were below 140.

Women with a systolic pressure of 140-149 faced nearly double the risk of a first stroke, compared with those below the 140 threshold, the study found.

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