New guidelines for the management of hypertension suggest that people 60 or older might be able to handle higher blood pressure readings than originally thought.
Hypertension, which can lead to strokes, heart attack, kidney failure and death, is traditionally treated with medication and diet.
The goal of most doctors is to keep their patient’s blood pressure below 140 (systolic) / 90 (diastolic). But after reviewing mounds of evidence, a committee of experts now says the systolic number, especially in older people, can be higher at 150/90. And many of these patients who were on medication would no longer need to be.
It is not clear how many people would be affected by these new guidelines, but experts are estimating in the millions.
The committee was asked to update the guidelines that have been in place for more than 30 years. They were published online Wednesday in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The group of 17 experts found no reason to change any other section of the guidelines.
According to the report, “There is strong evidence to support treating hypertensive persons aged 60 years or older to a BP goal of less than 150/90 and hypertensive persons 30 through 59 years of age to a diastolic goal of less than 90.
“However, there is insufficient evidence in hypertensive persons younger than 60 years for a systolic goal, or in those younger than 30 years for a diastolic goal, so the panel recommends a BP of less than 140/90 for those groups based on expert opinion.”