New study: Lower blood pressure guidelines could be 'lifesaving'

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A new study revealed Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, the blood pressure guidelines should be significantly dropped. (KABC)

Health officials said Friday they are ending a study and sharing results to the public more than a year early, after learning blood pressure guidelines should be much lower than they are now.

New findings from a National Institutes of Health study called SPRINT revealed lowering the systolic blood pressure guidelines from 140 and 150 to 120 can be lifesaving.

Researchers found that the risk of heart attack or stroke was reduced by almost a third, and the risk death was cut by almost 25 percent.

The study included more than 9,300 patients, age 50 and older, with high blood pressure.

Cardiologist David Sato explains the process of the illness as a harsh force of blood in the arteries that causes blood vessel walls to harden and puts more strain on organs.

Although the medications may help significantly, doctors say lifestyle changes should always be the first line of treatment.

"The difficulty is most patients can't follow that strict of a diet," said Sato.

But if these new guidelines are adopted, more patients may be given combinations of various blood pressure drugs to achieve the under 120 target, and the side effects from the medications are a big concern.

"You can't predict who will respond to which medication and which patients will have side effects to a particular medication," Sato added.

Sisters Sylvia Fregoso and Lina Reyes struggle with high blood pressure and both have been on numerous pills without much success.

"Some of these medications, no, they don't help you," said Fregoso. "They damage more than they really help."

Both women hope the findings of the new study encourage doctors to spend more time trying to understand each patient's needs.

I just really feel that the doctors need to talk to their patients," said Lina Reyes. "And know a little bit about their history and talk to them more."
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