New Blood Pressure Guidelines Under Increased Scrutiny

For low-risk patients, harmful effects are seen as possible

A new study found that the new blood pressure guidelines issued late last year may actually have some harmful effects for patients with lower risk of high blood pressure.

The study clarified that patients at higher risk for cardiovascular disease are seeing benefits from the stricter guidelines, which now define hypertension as any reading of 130 mm Hg over 80 mm Hg or higher (as opposed to the former guideline of 140/90.)

These new guidelines mean that some 46 percent of American adults are now defined as hypertensive, a marked increase from the previous threshold of 32 percent.

“After looking at data, my colleagues and I recommend using a different model for patients with high blood pressure than what was most recently recommended,” said Dr. Joseph Diamond, director of Nuclear Cardiology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Fellow of the American Society of Hypertension. “Identifying patients by degree of future cardiovascular risk identifies those who will most benefit from intensive blood pressure treatment goals. We do not feel that aggressive blood pressure lowering is warranted in all individuals.”

The “magic number” for benefit rather than harm is a risk greater than or equal to 18.2 percent of developing hypertension, according to the researchers.

SOURCE: Feinstein Institute

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