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Treat hypertension earlier and keep it lower, new guidelines say

December 5, 2017
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Blood pressure intervention should begin at 130/80 mm Hg instead of 140/90 to retain better cardiovascular and kidney health in a person’s older years, according to the 2017 Hypertension Clinical Practice Guidelines released by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) at the AHA annual meeting in November.

The guidelines are the first comprehensive changes to the best practices for blood pressure maintenance in a decade.

Several clinical trials have supported the idea of lowering the threshold for the definition of hypertension. The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), the largest study of its kind involving more than 9,300 participants since 2009, also supports early intervention and a lower maintained blood pressure as best practices, especially for adults over 50.

Blood pressure can be best controlled primarily through lifestyle changes and, when needed, medication, the guidelines say. “The most important nonpharmacological interventions include weight loss, a heart-healthy diet such as the DASH Diet, reduced dietary sodium intake, increased intake of potassium (preferably by dietary modification), increased physical activity and moderation or avoidance of alcohol intake,” the AHA executive summary suggests.

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