The European Society of Hypertension (ESH) and the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) have released the 2013 European Hypertension Guidelines at the 23rd European Meeting on Hypertension & Cardiovascular Protection in Milan.

The guidelines attribute the increasing problem of high blood pressure in Europe to “lifestyle factors, lack of awareness by both patients and physicians, hesitancy in initiating and intensifying drug treatment, and healthcare structural deficiencies.”

The World Health Organization describes high blood pressure as “the leading global risk for mortality in the world” and it continues to affect between 30 and 45 percent of the European population. One of the primary goals of the Guidelines is to specify “what needs to be done to reduce mortality and morbidity from high blood pressure and associated conditions” and in in a press release, the Guideline’s authors say they are disappointed that the numbers have not decreased since the first edition in 2003.
They stressed the need to raise awareness of the condition, which can be controlled with proper treatment.

A major revision in the new Guidelines over the previous 2007 edition is that medication is no longer suggested for treating high normal blood pressure and no single drug or class is given special preference. Instead, the Guidelines recommend an “individualized approach to treatment, based on clinical and demographic considerations.” Home blood pressure monitoring and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring are also given higher profile.

According to the report, “lifestyle changes are the cornerstone for the prevention of hypertension, including reduction of salt (to roughly half present levels) and alcohol, as well as maintaining a healthy body weight, regular exercise, and the elimination of smoking.”

One of the biggest updates is the adoption of a single systolic blood pressure target for almost all patients of 140 mmHg. The previous, more complicated target included recommendations for different levels of risk.

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