High blood pressure: a change in treatment could save your life

High blood pressure, or hypertension, has always been a huge concern in the Starts at 60 community. As the biggest cause of stroke, heart disease and kidney failure as we get older, few things are more vital to monitor and control.

Now a new study has revealed that our current treatments could be significantly improved. In fact, we may need to alter our very idea of what counts as “healthy blood pressure”.

With our current understanding of blood pressure, hypertension becomes a concern once the pressure level passes 140/90 (“140 over 90”).

However, a large trial by the National Institutes of Health found that we may have this wrong. We should be aiming for something much lower.

The study’s 9,000 patients were into two groups over several years. One group received an average of two medications to achieve the usual recommended blood pressure (140).

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The second group, on the other hand, received three medications, bringing their level down to a much lower 120. This second group fared far better, with health risks reducing significantly.

Those with lower blood pressure goals found themselves with heart attack risks reduced by almost a third and risk of death reduced by almost a quarter.

“The findings were surprising”, said Dr. William Haley from the Mayo Clinic. “I think they were surprising to the folks that put the trial together”.

“Compared to the usual goal blood pressure that’s been traditional, that a goal blood pressure of 120 was found to be associated with much lower risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke and significant lowered risk of death”, he said.

What does this mean for our future health?

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“For most people, they may end up taking an additional medication to get their blood pressure lower, if their doctor decides this is best for them”.

The patients will continue to be monitored. It is expected that these findings will ultimately form the basis of new guidelines to replace current recommendations.

However, it’s worth noting that every person’s situation is unique. If you believe your blood pressure goals should be lowered, talk to your doctor first to make sure this new goal is appropriate for your current health needs.

Have you dealt with hypertension or blood pressure issues? Are you receiving treatment? Does this news make you rethink your current goals?