Is Blood Pressure Medication Being Prescribed Too Late? Debate Over Latest Guidelines Continues

black person getting blood pressure checked

Scientists continue to debate when doctors should prescribe blood pressure medication for older Americans, with a new study saying delayed treatment puts people at greater risk of stroke.

For people 60 and older, a U.S. panel in 2014 recommended raising the blood pressure rate at which doctors prescribe treatment from 140 to 150 systolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading.

But the new study finds that people with systolic blood pressure of 140 to 149 have a 70 percent increased risk of stroke compared to people with lower blood pressure.

“Our study shows the borderline group is probably as risky as having a blood pressure greater than 150, at least for stroke risk,” said senior author Dr. Ralph Sacco, chair of neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “This was a controversial move, and I think our study suggests we shouldn’t switch it to 150. We should stick to 140.”

The new findings, published online Feb. 1 in the journal Hypertension, are unlikely to quell arguments over proper blood pressure management, however.