Blood Pressure Fears Recalibrated

By Ygal Kaufman

file000377764984New research out of OSU suggests previously dire prognoses regarding blood pressure may have been overblown. Since the experiments of Stephen Hale in the 1700s that first started to explore pumping blood, the advisory that one should keep their systolic pressure (the higher of the two numbers in your BP reading) under 140 has been gospel. A new study from scientists at OSU’s College of Pharmacy, along with participation from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, says that 150 may be good enough, even for adults over 60 (the group considered most at risk for pretty much everything except STIs, but especially susceptible to complications from hypertension).

While they recognize their conclusions will likely be treated with skepticism from many health care providers, they stand by the numbers. Leah Goeres, lead author of the study, said that keeping your systolic level under 150 is important for adults of all ages, adding, “but for older people that level is also good enough. After an extensive review, there was no significant evidence that more intensive management is necessary,” in a press release.

While some may insist that lower is better no matter what, the issue of finding an adequate and accurate level to stay below can dictate whether or not medications get prescribed which can have side effects that increase with dosage. Avoiding unnecessary medications and their side effects is a worthy battle to win in the war on high blood pressure. Millions of Americans currently are on such blood pressure medications, and about 70% of adults over 65 suffer from hypertension.