Panel Recommends Relaxing Blood Pressure Guideline

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After five years of evidence review, a panel of 17 experts has recommended that people over the age of 60 may be able to hold off on starting blood pressure medications until their blood pressure is over 150/90. Previous guidelines established a decade ago had set the recommendation at 140/90.

Approximately 78 million Americans have hypertension, or high blood pressure, but nearly half do not have their blood pressure controlled. Blood pressure under 120/80 is considered normal, 120-140/80-90 is considered pre-hypertension and anything over 140/90 is considered high. The panel said that people over 60 whose blood pressure is currently controlled to under 150/90 on medication should not stop their drugs. All patients with elevated blood pressure should implement lifestyle changes with good diet and exercise.

The new guidelines, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, have already stirred up controversy in the medical community. While the reviewed evidence suggests that lowering blood pressure to under 150/90 is sufficient to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke in this age group, some doctors are saying the new recommendation is based on “limited science,” according to The New York Times. To date, the new recommendation has not been endorsed by the American Heart Association.