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Category: General Wellness
More than 10 years ago, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute published guidelines regarding blood pressure treatment targets and recommendations for drug prescriptions. After initially stating it would not be updating new guidelines, the NIH has released an updated report and it could change how hypertension is treated across the board.
The previous guideline stated that all adults should aim to have a systolic blood pressure below 140 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg. Individuals with diabetes had an even lower target number, sitting at less than 130 mm Hg. Although the NIH still recommends those numbers for adults under the age of 60, it states that those 60 years of age and older should strive for an easier target of 150 mm Hg or lower. Despite these changes, the definition of hypertension still remains the same.
One significant difference between the NIH guidelines and the cardiovascular guidelines released by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association last month is in risk assessment. According to Eric Peterson, M.D., in an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the NIH's hypertension guidelines for assessing patient risk will result in less treatment for the elderly, while the ACC/AHA guidelines will lead to increased treatment in those individuals.
It is important to note that although the recommendations in the new guidelines are based on evidence from extensive research, they should not be used to replace clinical judgment from a medical professional.
Treating high blood pressure
High blood pressure remains one of the most preventable contributors to death and disease in the U.S. Abundant data from controlled experiments show the benefits of drug treatment to decrease blood pressure and improve the quality of life for individuals diagnosed with hypertension.
Even though a doctor may prescribe specific medication to control levels of blood pressure, he or she might also recommend certain changes to a patient's lifestyle to further decrease hypertension. These changes might include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption and cutting out smoking.
There are dozens of medications available that have certain pros and cons attributed to them. Individuals who feel they may be at risk can order lab tests online to determine their risk of hypertension and developing complications from high blood pressure.
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