It is important to note that there are two distinct classes of recommendations in the new American guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure: evidence based and opinion based. The evidence based guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure are based on factual data. In other words, these are strong recommendations that carry the weight of concrete evidence that came out of a large number of medical trials. The opinion based guidelines, on the other hand, do not have direct evidence to back up the recommendations. They are mostly based on the opinion of the doctors working to develop the guidelines.
I will only be stating the evidence based guideline because this is what really counts. Different doctors may treat high blood pressure differently but you need to know what the evidence from latest medical research suggests. In the end, the actual decision about how to treat your high blood pressure should be between you and your doctor.
Your blood pressure readings have two numbers written like 150/90. The top number is called the systolic blood pressure and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. They use both the top numbers and the bottom numbers in the guidelines.
If you are 29 years old or younger, they do not have enough evidence to recommend a cut-off blood pressure number for starting treatment. You only have the option to look at the opinion based recommendations.
If you are between 30 and 59 years of age, the evidence based guideline says that you only need to look at one blood pressure number: the bottom number. If your bottom number is greater than 90, the evidence suggests that you will benefit from taking blood pressure medications.
If you are 60 years old or older, you need to look at both the top and the bottom blood pressure readings. If any of the two is greater than the recommended threshold, the evidence suggests that you will benefit from taking blood pressure medications. In this age group, the cut off for bottom number is 90 and that for the top number is 150.
There are several debates and discussions going on about the new blood pressure guidelines. There are people who love it and there are people who hate it. I just wanted to give out the basic information in the simplest possible manner so that all patients and all people without medical background can understand the actual evidence based recommendations in the guidelines.
Please share your questions and comments.