New medical guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, indicate that nearly half of Americans will need to lower their blood pressure. Tighter blood pressure control means that those with a blood pressure of 130/80 should be treated, down from the previous standard of 140/90.

Previous studies have demonstrated that an even lower blood pressure goal, 120/80, greatly reduces risk for heart attack, heart failure and stroke. The current high blood pressure cutoff is a balance between safety and efficacy, say the guidelines’ authors.

Experts from University of Utah Health are available to answer questions, including: What is the best way to check blood pressure? If you have a blood pressure of 130/80 should you see your doctor? How is hypertension treated? What are the side effects from anti-hypertensive medications? Is treating hypertension safe in people with other chronic conditions?

Risks and benefits - Alfred Cheung, MD, chief of nephrology & Hypertension at University of Utah Health led a network of 17 clinical sites in the hallmark SPRINT clinical trial demonstrating the effectiveness of intensive blood pressure control. He can comment on risks and benefits, including to patients with chronic diseases such as chronic kidney disease.

Hypertension in older adults – Hypertension is a particular concern in older Americans; 80 percent of people over age 65 have high blood pressure under the new guidelines. Geriatrician Mark Supiano, MD, can comment on particular considerations for the frail elderly and challenges and recommendations for these age groups.

What about cost? – Analysis by Adam Bress, PharmD,  has demonstrated that despite extra appointments and increased costs of care associated with intensive blood pressure control, the long term benefits make intervention cost-effective. This includes by preventing serious health consequences such as hospitalizations, and serious complications. Dr. Bress can comment on benefits to health-related quality of life and on economics of an already overburdened healthcare system.

Contact Julie Kiefer from University of Utah Health Public Affairs at [email protected], 801-597-4258.

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