Are you aware of the new Blood Pressure guidelines?

Blood Pressure guidelines have changed and you should be aware of some new revelations.  The American Medical Association has produced a study, which you can read at The New York Times here, that changes the old limits of blood pressure for hypertension.  A few points stick out and I want to make sure you understand them and to encourage you to speak with your doctor about them, especially if you have a history of hypertension, have diabetes or kidney disease, or you are overweight/obese and at risk for developing hypertension.

First of all, because of these new guidelines, you might not need the prescription medicines you are taking for hypertension.  If you blood pressure is 140/90 (the old threshold), you do not need medication to lower it.  The new guidelines only want people with blood pressures of 150/90 treated with prescription meds.  The good news in this is that those medicines can be costly and you shouldn't pay for them if you don't need them.  Also you just shouldn't take any medicines that your body doesn't need.  A better prescription might be a walking exercise plan as designed by your doctor and eating less sodium and salt.

Secondly, if you are under 60 years old, there is no evidence that you need prescription medications for a systolic (the top number) pressure over 140.  It is a good rule of thumb, if you are healthy, to keep your blood pressure lower than 140/90 because you don't want to put undue stress on the heart, but there are no scientific guidelines saying just what your pressure should be if you are less than 60.  In other words if you are healthy, get an annual physical, eat well, exercise, sleep 7-8 hours a day, and don't stress too much.  All the things that you should be doing anyway, right?  But you probably don't need to stress your BP too much.

Lastly, if your doctor recommends a prescription drug therapy for your elevated blood pressure of 150/90, know that it won't necessarily reduce your risk for hypertension, stroke, and heart attack.  Drug treatments for mildly elevated blood pressures have not shown to be that effective in any age group.  Now if your blood pressure is elevated beyond the new guidelines, then yes, prescription medical treatment is recommended by your doctor, but otherwise, the evidence is inconclusive.

What age are you?  Do you know your blood pressure?  What do you think of these new guidelines?

POSTED ON: January 15 2014
Posted by:Su-Lauren Wilson owner,CFO
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