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.