What is an Appropriate Blood Pressure Goal?

doctor-300x199.jpgAging parents and others could be forgiven for being a bit confused as to what is the proper blood pressure goal for which they should be aiming. There's conflicting information out there on this subject.

Recent Changes

For many, many years, there was no confusion in this area. The general consensus among medical practitioners was that a blood pressure reading below 140/90 was the goal for adults (especially older adults). This was felt to be a good recommendation that would lessen the risk of hypertensive situations.

Then in 2013, a new recommendation was issued for aging parents and other seniors. This new recommendation said that a reading of 150/90 was okay. The change was meant to reflect the fact that sometimes efforts to reduce blood pressure can result in  dizziness, which in turn can result in falls — a common and potentially serious situation for many seniors. So the raised upper number was intended to find a balance between keeping blood pressure at a healthy level and reducing dizziness and falls.

More Changes?

Now the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has issued a press release​ which indicates that the upper number should perhaps be adjusted downward from 150 — rather dramatically.

The NHLBI release was discussing the preliminary (not the final) results of a study called SPRINT – Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial. The preliminary results suggest that individuals 50 and older should perhaps aim for an upper reading (a systolic reading) of only 120 rather than 140 or 150.

The SPRINT study looked at more than 9300 adults age 50 and up. These patients were divided into one group that would receive treatment recommended to lower the blood pressure to 140 and another that would receive treatments aimed at achieving a 120 reading.

The researchers found that those in the 120 group had "reduced rates of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and heart failure, as well as stroke, by almost a third and the risk of death by almost a quarter," compared to those in the 140 group.

Other Considerations

This is exciting news, but, because these are initial results, there are still many questions to be answered, some of which are of special importance to aging parents and others. For example, the study is also looking at dementia, cognitive function, and kidney issues among these participants to see if there is evidence that either treatment has an effect (positive or negative) in these areas. Also, there was a general trend toward needing to use more medications to achieve the lower 120 goal, which could be of concern to some seniors.

This is an issue which is bound to be discussed and debated in the medical community over the next few years. In the meantime, aging parents and others should consult with their doctors to determine what blood pressure goal and treatment is recommended for them.

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- centraldallas.myhomecareblog.com


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