Nearly 6 million adults in the United States could stop taking blood pressure medications thanks to controversial new guidelines proposed recently by the Eighth Joint National Committee. Their study recommends relaxing blood pressure levels from 140/90 to 150/90 for patients over 60 years old. The researchers said that 25 percent of people over 60 were on blood pressure medications. They also recommended changing blood pressure guidelines for diabetics and people with kidney disease.
The research relied on blood pressure statistics gathered from over 16,000 Americans from 2005 to 2010. They analyzed the data to evaluate the effect of their guideline revisions. The study, which was published in the online Journal of the American Medical Association and was presented at the American College of Cardiology annual meeting in Washington, D.C., suggested that the number of people on blood pressure medications would drop from 41 percent to 32 percent.
The researchers said that some 13.5 million adults who were previously thought to not have their blood pressure controlled would now be considered to have their blood pressure under control. The majority of those patients are over 60 years old. Nearly 6 million adults could get off their blood pressure medications. They might still have hypertension, but they wouldn’t need to be on their meds according to the study’s lead researcher Ann Marie Navar-Boggan. She is a cardiology fellow at Duke University School of Medicine. She also said that those patients could take less intensive blood pressure drugs, which would reduce side effects like falling.
Even with the revised guidelines, some 28 million adults in the United States would still be classified as having uncontrolled high blood pressure. It is estimated that 50 percent of those people don’t take anything for their condition. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
The recommendations will come under serious consideration before they are implemented. However, given the results of the extensive research, a restructuring of blood pressure guidelines seems likely and is favored by many primary care physicians.