New guidelines for treating high blood pressure

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High blood pressure is the most common condition primary care physicians treat and a new set of guidelines has just been released to help doctors and patients manage it appropriately.

"In those patients who are over age 60, a blood pressure in the range of 150 over 90 or higher merit treatment. In those patients less than age 60, blood pressure in the range of 140 over 90 or greater are deemed meriting treatment," said Dr. Curtis Rimmerman, who did not help put the guidelines together, but is a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

A panel of experts put the list of guidelines together after reviewing numerous hypertension studies.  It recommends treating high blood pressure by age groups, rather than across the board.

They say people 60 and over should set a blood pressure goal of less than 150 over 90. Anyone between 30 and 59 years old should shoot for a recommended blood pressure of less than 140 over 90.

"In my view the commentary is going to be- did they go low enough with the blood pressure? And apparently, their consensus is there is not enough data out there to support making a recommendation to go lower at the present time," explained Rimmerman.

The guidelines also split groups of people by race, whether or not they're diabetic, and if they have chronic kidney failure.  They say anyone with blood pressures higher than what's recommended for their group should begin lifestyle changes and treatment.

Rimmerman says the recommendations include who would benefit from medication.

"It gives us clinicians some guidelines to work with, in terms of, which medications are best for which populations," said Rimmerman.

Complete findings are available online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.