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Blood Pressure Guidelines For People Over 60 Can Be Loosened, According to AMA Report; Changes Decade Old Treatment

By Tony Sokol | December 18, 2013 12:20 PM EST

Blood Pressure guidelines
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Blood pressure guidelines might be too high, according to a report published in the The Journal of the American Medical Association.

New blood pressure guidelines suggest that people over the age of 60 can register higher numbers than the older blood pressure guidelines before doctors have to recommend treatment. The older blood pressure guidelines have been in place for over 30 years.

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A committee made up of 17 academics published a report on blood pressure guidelines in The Journal of the American Medical Association. It was published online today. The committee updated year old blood pressure guidelines.

The old guidelines recommended that people, regardless of how old they were, should keep their blood pressures below 140/90. Doctors often prescribed the patients drugs to reach that goal. A new panel offered blood pressure guidelines saying that that the goal for people over 60 should be 150/90.  The committee spent five years reviewing evidence.

The top number is the pressure on blood vessels when the heart contracts. It is called systolic blood pressure. The bottom number inidicates the pressure on blood vessels between beats when the heart relaxes. It is called diastolic blood pressure.

The co-chairman of the guidelines committee, Dr. Paul A. James, chairman of the department of family medicine at the University of Iowa, said "If you get patients' blood pressure below 150, I believe you are doing as well as can be done based on scientific evidence. ... We have this notion that if we can get blood pressure to normal, we will have the most health benefits. That's not necessarily true."

Dr. Suzanne Oparil, co-chairwoman of the committee and director of the vascular biology and hypertension program at the University of Alabama School of Medicine said "The mantra of blood pressure experts in the past has been that lower is better. Recent studies don't seem to support that."

People who are over 60 and already taking drugs to lower their blood pressure to below 150 can still take their medications as long as there are no bad side effects. 

 

 

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