Higher blood pressure threshold OK in older adults

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Older adults with high blood pressure can be treated by taking fewer pills to get it under control. Thinkstock Older adults with high blood pressure can be treated by taking fewer pills to get it under control. Thinkstock
SummaryOlder adults with high blood pressure can be treated by taking fewer pills to get it under control.

president-elect. He noted that his group last month published a treatment formula that echoes the 2003 advice.

Dr. Gary Gibbons, the federal agency's director, issued a statement Wednesday emphasizing that his agency has not sanctioned the panel's report, nor has the broader National Institutes of Health. While noting that the panel decided not to collaborate with the heart groups' efforts, Gibbons said his agency would work with those groups ''to transition'' the panel's evidence review into their update. His statement did not address whether the agency opposes all the panel's recommendations.

James said panel members chose to release their guidelines independently to get the recommendations out sooner and into the hands of primary care doctors, who treat large numbers of patients with high blood pressure. The guidelines were published online Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Curtis Rimmerman, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, called the guidelines ''exceedingly important'' given the prevalence of high blood pressure, which affects about 1 in 3 U.S. adults, or 68 million.

Whether many doctors immediately adopt the advice ''remains to be seen,'' he said. Rimmerman predicted that some will continue to push to get older patients' blood pressure lower than the new recommendation, especially those with previous strokes or heart problems.

The panel said their guidelines are simply recommendations, and that doctors should make treatment decisions based on patients' individual circumstances. The experts emphasized that everyone with high blood pressure can benefit from a healthy diet, regular exercise and weight control, which all can help lower blood pressure.

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