Panel: Lay Off Blood Pressure Meds

Government study says we can raise the goal for adults
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2013 2:00 PM CST
Panel: Lay Off Blood Pressure Meds
Jim Grant has his blood pressure taken by Beth Heyman at the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic on Hilton Head Island, S.C., on Nov. 20, 2013.   (AP Photo/Bruce Smith)

Americans can get away with a higher blood pressure goal than they have been, and should take fewer medications to get their high blood pressure under control, according to new guidelines released today by a government panel. After reviewing medical research that's been done since the last guidelines were issued in 2003, the panel concluded that, while 140 over 90 should still be considered high blood pressure, doctors shouldn't break out the drugs until patients hit 150 over 90, the AP reports.

Right now, some patients are using two or three drugs in an attempt to hit the 140 mark, one panel member explained; reducing the target could allow them to take fewer drugs. But the findings don't carry an official government endorsement—the government no longer issues official guidelines—and they're proving controversial. The American Heart Association says it's advising sticking with the old guidelines, worrying that some of the studies the panel reviewed weren't long enough to properly evaluate elderly patients. In other blood pressure news, Chinese researchers have shown that staying up late can increase blood pressure in teens, Reuters reports. (Read more blood pressure stories.)

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