High blood pressure treatment needs to be more aggressive, study findsBy Rashmi Kalia
A major study on blood pressure has revealed that a more aggressive treatment needs to be in place for people who are suffering from high blood pressure, NY Times reported.
The study was expected to conclude in 2017, but since it contained lifesaving information, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute announced the results Friday morning. The institute said a paper with the data would be published within a few months.
For years, medical practitioners have struggled with the uncertainty as to how aggressive the treatment for bringing blood pressure down should be. The drugs to bring the blood pressure down have risks and side effects and there are questions regarding the need for elderly patients to have higher blood pressure to push blood to the brain.
The study showed that patients who reached a systolic blood pressure goal below 120 reduced their risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes reduced by a third and cut down their risk of death by nearly a quarter.
Under the study, the researchers assigned more than 9,300 men and women ages 50 and over who were at high risk of heart disease or had kidney disease to one of the two systolic blood pressure targets, less than 120 or less than 140.
"This study provides potentially lifesaving information," Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, director of the institute, said in a statement announcing the decision, according to NY Times.
"It is outstanding news," said Dr. Mark Creager, president of the American Heart Association and director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, who was not involved in the study. "It will serve as a road map and will save a significant amount of lives."
However, some believe that dragging the systolic pressure down to 120 would mean giving people more and more medications, which would lead to undesirable side effects, especially in older people.
Also, the study also looked into whether a lower blood pressure would help people with kidney disease and if people would have less dementia.
The results of a lower blood pressure on the kidneys and the brain are still being analyzed, the heart institute said.
However, people with high blood pressure should not panic or rush to their doctor to change medication.
"No one is in imminent danger here," Dr. Reboussin said, according to NY Times.