News / Health

Blood Pressure Guidelines Revamped

A man is pictured having his blood pressure checked.
A man is pictured having his blood pressure checked.

Related Articles

Video Mobile Clinics Bring Health Care to South Africa Countryside

Significan lack of medical facilities in rural areas being overcome by new solar-powered initiative

Novel Gene Therapy Reverses Heart Disease in Animals

Researchers poised to begin human clinical trials of therapy to treat a major cause of heart disease by shrinking enlarged hearts

China Investigating New Deadly Bird Flu Strain

Researchers say 73-year-old woman died from new strain called H10N8 shortly after visiting poultry market in Jiangxi Province
VOA News
For the first time in decades, experts have raised the threshold for what is considered dangerously high blood pressure for people aged 60 and over. As a result, patients may be prescribed fewer drugs to treat hypertension.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to heart attacks, kidney failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately.

A government-appointed panel that made the recommendations stressed that they are not changing the definition of high blood pressure, which currently is 140 over 90 but that for adults aged 60 and older, they are recommending a higher treatment threshold, prescribing medicine only when blood pressure levels reach 150 over 90 or higher.

In older people too much high blood pressure medication can cause fainting and falls, the panel said. Furthermore, medication to treat high blood pressure could react negatively with other medications.

For younger patients, treatment recommendations remain unchanged.

"This report takes a rigorous, evidence-based approach to recommend treatment thresholds, goals, and medications in the management of hypertension in adults,” the study says.

According to Paul James, professor and head of family medicine at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and co-chair of the panel making the recommendations, past guidelines from the last several decades “have been based on consensus by experts.”

“These  [recommendations] were based on scientific evidence from randomized controlled trials,” he said. “Expert opinion was used only in the absence of scientific evidence.”

The panel reviewed numerous past studies from January 1, 1966 to December 31, 2009, as well as major, eligible studies that took place between December 2009 and August 2013.

The review focused on adults age 18 and older with hypertension and included studies involving diabetes, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, heart failure, previous stroke, chronic kidney disease, proteinuria, older adults, men and women, racial and ethnic groups, and smokers.

Panelists also looked at methods of controlling high blood pressure, including what medication should be started in patients with hypertension; what blood pressure goal should patients achieve to know they are enjoying proven health benefits from their medication and what are the best medication choices to reach the goal blood pressure.

The recommendations are not without controversy.

According to the Associated Press, the American Heart Association is raising concerns about the new recommendations, saying that many of the studies reviewed didn't last long enough to reveal dangers of undertreated high blood pressure in older patients.

The guidelines were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Dexter Carson from: Canberra Australia
December 19, 2013 6:28 PM
Well this old fart of 76 years has been on BP medication for over 30 years. My BP is 120/75 and I attribute survival to my age to this medicated control. It is a bit late to say perhaps I should not have reduced my dosage, AFTER you have the stroke!!

by: thepoliticalcat from: California
December 19, 2013 12:39 PM
20 - 30 minutes per day of moderate to fast-paced exercise (meaning, a walk around the block) will lower your blood pressure as effectively as almost any drug. It will also greatly improve your health and your looks. Instead of advising our elderly to take yet another drug, let's try to teach them healthy habits. They need it just as much as our youth.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs