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Dec 18, 2013

New Recommendations for Blood Pressure Management

New recommendations for the treatment of high blood pressure—a condition that affects nearly 78 million U.S. adults—were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here’s what every patient should know about the new recommendations:

Unlike past recommendations, the new recommendations are based solely on randomized controlled trials, which are considered to be the gold standard of research. Using findings from these select studies, experts were able to compile specific, evidence-based recommendations regarding the efficacy and safety of various hypertension treatments based on the latest and most valid research studies.

Based on clinical trials and expert opinion, authors recommend that patients 60 years or older with hypertension should strive to achieve a blood pressure less than 150/90 mm Hg. Adults with hypertension who are under 60, should strive for blood pressure levels less than 140/90 mm Hg to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.

Patients with blood pressure levels greater than those stated above should take medication to achieve a healthy blood pressure. If “goal” blood pressure is not achieved within a month of starting a medication, doctors should work closely with patients to alter the treatment plan and find one that achieves normal blood pressure.

The benefits of healthy lifestyle changes like a healthy dietweight control and regular exercise cannot be overlooked. In combination with medication, these lifestyle choices can help further improve blood pressure control and, in certain cases, reduce the need for drugs.

Authors hope that these recommendations will allow doctors to more effectively work with their patients to achieve normal blood pressure levels, reducing patients’ risk for heart disease and stroke. However, authors also note that their recommendations cannot take the place of doctors’ personal judgment. Each and every patient is different and guidelines should be used to provide the best, personalized care to help those with high blood pressure live longer, healthier lives.

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association will be using these recommendations to update National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute guidelines over the next year.

Questions for You to Consider

  • Who is at risk for high blood pressure?
  • Risk for hypertension increases with age, and most adults will eventually be affected by this condition at some time in their lives. However, diabetes, obesity, stress, high sodium intake, tobacco use and excessive alcohol use can greatly increase risk for high blood pressure.
  • How can I reduce my risk for hypertension?

  • There are a variety of ways to reduce risk for hypertension, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking (if you smoke), limiting sodium intake, reducing stress and maintaining a healthy weight. For those already diagnosed with hypertension, these lifestyle changes can also be effective in treating and controlling the condition, sometimes in conjunction with certain blood pressure medications.

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Featured Video

Hypertension is another way to say "high blood pressure." A patient has hypertension if their readings are above 140 over 90. With medication, the right diet, and a few lifestyle changes, however, hypertension can be managed.