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Raising High Blood Pressure Threshold for Seniors

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By: Kecia Lilly

Interestingly enough, doctors are now convinced that the proper way to treat the High Blood Pressure (HBP) threshold for seniors is to raise the HBP medication limit. What this means is, while 140/90 is the current indicator for high blood pressure, experts in HBP and hypertension don’t want seniors to be prescribed medication until they hit 150/90.

This all started when the Joint National Committee (JNC) – a group of experts in treating high blood pressure and hypertension – released their newest (eighth) report recommending the change.

Ordinarily, a person is deemed to have high blood pressure if their systolic or “peak” pressure is far higher than their diastolic or “basal” pressure; the way they determine this is if the patient reads 140 (systolic) over 90 (diastolic).

What the experts in the field are now saying is not change 140/90 as the high blood pressure limit, but to make 150/90 for seniors over 60 the point at which they’re prescribed medication. In addition, they’re saying that people under 60 with high blood pressure should not be prescribed anything at all!

As many seniors are already aware, hypertension and high blood pressure put elders at a heightened risk of some of the leading causes of death in American, including heart attacks, kidney failure, and strokes. With this knowledge, the fact that the limit would be raised may seem absurd, but the experts of the JNC have determined that there is no real benefit in lowering blood pressure to 140 than 150.

This recent recommendations are extremely different from the practices that have been applied in the past since if you were diagnosed with high blood pressure, you were told make some lifestyle changes, cuts to your diet, and, of course, given medication. While exercise and cutting back on salty foods will always be beneficial to people with high blood pressure, it’s important to note that that may be all some people need to do.

The experts have also mentioned that being on high blood pressure medication can actually lead to more faints and falls – the number one source of injury in elders. This can be because seniors on HBP medication are also commonly on others and therefore can have some conflicting reactions.

All this said, for those that suffer from Diabetes or kidney disease, the experts recommend medication if their blood pressure is at the current threshold 140/90 due to the fact that that demographic is at a higher risk. Additionally, regardless of your age, if you are currently on HBP medication and your blood pressure has dropped, then they also express that you should maintain that for fear of upsetting the balance.

While this decision, going forward, will affect hundreds of thousands of people (many of whom will no longer need drug therapy), it’s worth noting that it does more than that by placing a larger emphasis on healthy eating and exercise.

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