According to Duke University researchers, that could mean that 5.8 million people considered uncontrolled under the old guidelines wouldn't need blood pressure medication under the new guidelines. While the new guidelines should result in fewer medication side effects, some say it could increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
While everyone agrees that hypertension can lead to strokes, heart disease and kidney disease, just how low blood pressure levels should be to reduce the risk is controversial.
One in four adults in the over-60 group is on hypertension drugs to meet the old guidelines. According to the study, 13.5 million adults — most over 60 — would no longer be classified as having poorly controlled blood pressure, including 5.8 million who would no longer need blood pressure pills under the new guidelines. These adults would be eligible for less intensive blood pressure medication under the new guidelines, particularly if they were experiencing side effects. But many experts fear that increasing blood pressure levels in these adults could be harmful.
For quite a while, the goal, especially for older patients, has been much too low. They get calcified arteries, so it's harder to get blood pressure control overall. Adding more and more medications, and driving their systolic pressure down makes the diastolic (bottom) number way too low for them. It can cause a lot weakness and dizziness. That can affect quality of life, she said, and cause falls, which can mean dangerous hip fractures among other injuries.