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High Blood Pressure Guidelines

January 6, 2014, 6:12 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

High Blood Pressure Guidelines

It's known as the "silent killer" but now fewer people are being told to take medication to control their high blood pressure.

Dan Coover makes a point to get his blood pressure checked on a regular basis. The 70-year-old was diagnosed with high blood pressure 14 years ago.

"It's that silent killer they say," Dan's wife Sandy Coover said.

Like many people with high blood pressure, Dan didn't have any symptoms. He's now on medication, but fewer people Dan’s age are taking prescriptions to manage their blood pressure.

Under the new guideline, adults 60 or older should only take medication if their blood pressure exceeds 150 over 90. That's compared to the previous reading of 140 over 90.

"It's less stringent than the old guidelines," Avera Internal Medicine Dr. Emad Beshai said.

Another key recommendation is that patients 30 to 59 years old don't need to be on medication to lower their blood pressure to the benchmark of 120 over 80. Instead, anything below 140 over 90 is acceptable.

"They think the benefit of starting medications at blood pressure 140 over 90 outweighed the risk, but starting the medication below that range, the risk of side effects outweighed the benefit," Beshai said.

Yet, Beshai says many people have unmanaged high blood pressure and if high blood pressure goes untreated, it can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. That is why Dan is not only taking medications to control his blood pressure; he's also changing his lifestyle.

"I basically stay away from salt 100 percent. I don't even touch the salt shaker. I try to exercise," Dan said.

The President-elect of the American Heart Association has issued a statement with some concerns about the new guidelines. He's worried they could cause more people to continue with unmanaged high blood pressure, which is why it's important to check with your doctor.

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