New study recommends lower target for lowering blood pressure
Hypertension poses a health risk because it overloads the heart and blood vessels in the long term and, if left untreated, can lead to a heart attack or stroke. The main focus of treatment is therefore on lowering blood pressure. According to the “SPRINT” study published in November last year, a target value of 120 mmHg should be aimed for - and no longer a value of 140 mmHg as before. Does this specification apply to every patient? And are side effects to be expected? In an interview with the journal “Herz heute”, cardiologist Prof. Heribert Schunkert explains the most important points about the study and gives tips on what patients should pay attention to.
High blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke
According to a current announcement from the German Heart Foundation, an estimated 20 million adults in this country live with high blood pressure. This represents an immense health risk, because if not treated or not adequately treated, it significantly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and heart failure. Treatment is therefore primarily about lowering the value, so far a target value of 140 mmHg (millimeter of mercury) has usually been aimed for. However, in November last year, the so-called “SPRINT” study appeared, according to which it is better for the health of the patients if the blood pressure is set to 120 mmHg. This caused uncertainty for many patients, because the reduction to 140 is often an enormous challenge.
Damage accumulates over the years in younger people
So is 120 the new 140 for blood pressure? And does this apply equally to all patients? "The younger and healthier a high-pressure patient is, the closer it should be to 120 mmHg," explains the heart specialist in the conversation published by the German Heart Foundation. In young people, the damage to the organs from high blood pressure has accumulated over the years - but this can be avoided by intensified blood pressure therapy.
"When a young woman or a young man comes to me with a blood pressure of 140, I say: 'There's more in it'", Prof. Dr. med. Heribert Schunkert further out. Schunkert is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation and is Medical Director of the German Heart Center in Munich.
Health risks have been significantly reduced
The study had shown that lowering the blood pressure to 120 would bring impressive results in suitable people. Because the intensified treatment significantly reduced the risk of an infarction, stroke, heart failure or death from cardiovascular disease. Schunkert also confirms this, "however, such a drop in blood pressure must always be made dependent on the individual situation of the patient," emphasizes the expert. It is not just about the right medication.
Instead, a change in lifestyle through healthy eating, exercise and low salt and alcohol can lower blood pressure by 10 mmHg. The treatment could then be intensified with blood pressure agents.
Intensified treatment requires constant controls
According to Schunkert, however, the intensive form of therapy can only be carried out with highly motivated doctors and patients. Because reducing the blood pressure to a lower target value requires very frequent medical checks to avoid serious side effects such as fainting or kidney damage. In elderly patients and people with comorbidities such as The coronary artery disease must be looked at particularly well here, "so that one does not overshoot the target with blood pressure treatment," warns the expert.
Patients who have difficulty or have not achieved the previous target of below
Reach 140/90 mmHg, should not lose motivation in view of the new study. Instead, it is important that those affected are aware of the risks and set smaller goals: "If you succeed in lowering high blood pressure significantly, e.g. to less than 140/90 mmHg, the hazard is largely eliminated, ”explains the cardiologist. A further cut brings an improvement, but it is comparatively small. "With a significantly reduced blood pressure, patients are definitely winners of blood pressure therapy, even if they cannot reach 120 mmHg," emphasizes Schunkert. (No)