Many people are unaware of how much blood pressure affects their body. Researchers are now saying that it is extremely important to educate patients on the significance of lowering their blood pressure.
The New York Times reports on a new study concerning the affects and advantages of bringing down a person’s blood pressure.
The results of the study are compelling. Many physicians are actually said to be confused and surprised by them.
Experts conducting the new study found that people should drive their blood pressure levels far below what current guidelines recommend, less than 120 instead of 140 or 150 millimeters of mercury. They say that this can save lives and prevent heart disease and strokes.
The researchers recently published their paper in The New England Journal of Medicine. Almost 10,000 patients with hypertension were studied for a little over three years. The patients also had at least one risk factor like smoking, kidney disease or high cholesterol. Expert results showed that those who lowered their blood pressure to 120 instead of 140 had 26% fewer deaths and 38% fewer cases of heart failure.
Dr. Paul K. Whelton, a principal investigator for the study, said, “Over all, there was a 24 percent reduction — 243 compared with 319 — in people who had a heart attack, heart failure or stroke or died of heart disease.”
There was no difference in results between patients of different ages – older patients did just as well as younger patients. These results could change the way of life for millions of people with high blood pressure.
Dr. Marc Alan Pfeffer, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston who was not affiliated with the study, commented on the study. He commented on how guideline will need to change. He said, ‘Before now, if a patient over 50 years old with high cholesterol or another well-controlled risk factor for heart disease came into his office with systolic pressure of 136 he would pat the patient on the back and say, Great job’. He says that now he would feel obligated to give the patient more hypertension drugs. Otherwise, Dr. Pfeffer said, “I would have lost the opportunity to help another human being.”
Experts are estimating that around 17 million Americans will be affected by the news. The study was supposed to run until 2017, but researchers abruptly stopped it because they had ground breaking and life-saving results that they had to share with the public.
Physicians have often been confused about how low patient blood pressure should be, especially when it comes to elderly folks. “According to the results released Monday, about 5 percent of the study’s patients, or 220 people, with the 120 blood pressure target had serious complications over the course of the study — blood pressure so low it caused severe dizziness or fainting,” according to The Times.
Experts said the most significant part of the news was that the improvements in death rates and rates of heart attacks occurred on top of improvements these patients already experienced as their blood pressures fell to 140.
How did they get patients’ blood pressure down?
In order to get patients’ systolic pressure down to 120 researchers had them take 2.8 pills instead of 1.8 and almost all blood pressure pills are inexpensive.
Committees who create these national guidelines for the public will have to decide how to change regulations going forward. One major issue is what regulators should have patients with diabetes do.
Dr. Aram V. Chobanian of Boston University Medical Center, wrote a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine saying, “Even if the guidelines end up recommending a goal of less than 120 only for people like those in the study, doctors will face a challenge. A third to half of all patients fail to meet even the current blood pressure goals of 140 to 150.”