Controlling your blood pressure can help you live longer, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey discovered those treating their condition with medication lowered their risk of death during a 20-year period.

Researchers also found, those in the study who took medicine to lower their blood pressure for more than four years reduced their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease over the same period.

“For the first time, we prove that treating high blood pressure prolongs life,” UMDNJ pharmacology professor and lead researcher, Dr. John Kostis said, in a statement.

Study findings were published in the Dec. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Kostis and his colleagues used data from the Systolic Hypertension in the Elderly Program (SHEP) trial to determine the effect antihypertensive drugs might have on extending life.

The trial, which was conducted between 1985 and 1990, had more than 4,000 hypertensive patients who were randomly assigned to take chlorthalidone or an inactive placebo. The patients in the study were an average of 72 years of age.

Kostis noted when chlorthalidone didn’t work, a beta blocker was prescribed. At the end of the trial, patients were encouraged seek hypertension treatment.

At the 22-year follow-up in 2006, about 60 percent of the participants had died. Of these, 59.9 percent of those taking chlorthalidone had died as did 60.5 percent of those who received placebo.

The researchers found that life expectancy and survival were longer for those who received chlorthalidone during the trial compared with those given a placebo.

The gain in life expectancy, for death from any cause, linked to treating hypertension was about half a day per month of treatment, they found.

“If you take your medications for a month, you live an extra day,” he said. “One day benefit from a month of treatment sounds small, but if you start treatment at 40, for example, then you live a couple of extra years.”