A message from Sandy Popham, MD

New Blood Pressure Guidelines!

Last month, the NIH released results of a trial comparing two different blood pressure targets for those over the age of 50.

The results are impressive.

In the past, we have recommended a blood pressure goal of 140/90 mm/Hg or less for most individuals, and for those with diabetes or kidney disease, 130/80 mm/Hg or less.

This study involved 9300 individuals and randomized them to a systolic (top number) blood pressure of 120 or 140 mm/Hg. The study ran from 2009 to 2015, a total of six years.

The individuals were age 50 or older, had hypertension, and at risk for cardiovascular disease, or had chronic kidney disease.

The study looked at outcomes of heart attack, heart failure, stroke or death.

Patients with a systolic blood pressure goal of 120 had a 25% less risk of heart attack, heart failure, or stroke, and a 30% less risk of stroke.

So, we will be changing our expectations for systolic (top number) blood pressure goal.

To achieve this, you will want to:

1. Follow a low sodium diet: 2000 mg or less daily. Read food labels, avoid processed foods, and salt only your eggs and potatoes.
2. Exercise regularly: 3-4 days a week of walking, and a couple days of strength work.
3. Take prescribed blood pressure medications regularly.
4. Keep track of your home blood pressure: check it once or twice a week, in the morning before you take your medications. Sit for five minutes, feet flat on the ground, and have your upper arm at the level of your heart. Ideally, take three blood pressures, each 2 or 3 minutes apart, and average these.
5. Bring your blood pressure reports to your clinic visit, so we can use that data too.

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