Hypertension guidelines: how much low?

In an era that that ‘evidence-based medicine’ is facing challenges from many fronts, the benefits of blood pressure control have been shown to decrease morbidity and mortality and increase lifespan. The evidence is strong and there is no disagreement among clinicians and researchers.

However, there is considerable uncertainty and debate as to how much reduction is needed in systolic blood pressure among the leading guidelines that look at the same evidence. The JNC 2018, AHA/ACC and now NICE guidelines vary with the recommendations.

The page below gives the summary of guidelines available from JNC 8 (2014), ACC/AHA (2107) and ESC/ESH (2018) 

Guidelines for Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults

In 2014, panel members of the Eighth Joint National Committee published the results of their evidence review and deliberations about the prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure.

The 2014 guideline offers recommendations for the management of hypertension in:

  • People older or younger than age 60 years
  • People aged ≥18 years with chronic kidney disease
  • People aged ≥18 years with diabetes
  • Black and nonblack populations

2017 ACC/AHA Hypertension Guideline

In 2017 the ACC/AHA and 9 other specialty organizations published an updated hypertension guideline which, among many changes, redefined elevated blood pressure to lower BP levels, enlarging the population considered potential candidates for monitoring and treatment. Learn more here.

2018 ESC/ESH Guideline

In 2018 the ESC/ESH published a guideline which retains the 140/90 threshold definition of hypertension, including for patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), and emphasizes lifestyle interventions as primary treatment, with consideration of antihypertensive drug therapy only in adults at very high risk, eg with established CVD. In many other respects, the 2018 guideline is similar to the 2017 ACC/AHA guideline.

JAMA have produced two Podcasts: Battle of the Heart Societies: Who Is Right–the US or Europe–Regarding How to Manage Hypertension? Part I & Parts II. There can be downloaded free of charge from Appstore or Google Playstore.



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