Ditching the one-size-fits-all, readings-based blood pressure treatment could save lives.
New research published in the medical journal, Circulation, shows that individualized treatment of blood pressure rather than the one-size-fits-all approach, could prevent more than a fourth of heart attacks and strokes – up to 180,000 a year – while using less medication at the same time.
The new approach has been recommended by researchers at University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. They found that when hypertension treatment is strictly based on blood pressure levels some patients land up on too many medications and others on too little.
While this is the typical approach used to prevent heart disease and stroke, the university said in a press statement that a more effective treatment would be “individualized recommendations using patients’ risk of heart disease after considering multiple factors – such as age, gender and whether or not the patient smokes.”
“We should guide use of medications by a patient’s risk of these diseases and how much adding a new medication decreases that risk – not solely on their blood pressure level. We found that people who have mildly high blood pressure but high cardiovascular risk receive a lot of benefit from treatment, but those with low overall cardiovascular risk do not,” said lead author Jeremy Sussman, M.D., M.Sc., assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School and research scientist at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.
The authors say new hypertension guidelines could not only help doctors, but also patients to make informed decisions about their treatment. For example, if patients knew that medication only slightly reduced their risk of a heart attack or stroke (e.g. from 8 in 100 to 6 in 100 over the next 10 years), they may opt not to take them.
Patients who decide that anti-hypertensive medications ― and their side-effects, are not for them, should consider natural treatments. RESPeRATE is the first FDA-approved medical device clinically proven to lower blood pressure. By interactively guiding the user through unique breathing exercises that relax constricted blood vessels, blood pressure levels are reduced. RESPeRATE is also a treatment for stress, which in itself can lead to high blood pressure.