Since new guidelines for treating high blood pressure announced earlier this year haven’t received much public attention, David Gile, M.D., wanted to share the information – if for no other reason than to stress the importance of blood pressure checks.
Dr. Gile is a nephrologist in the Specialty Clinic at St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center. A nephrologist is a kidney specialist; Dr. Gile also is a specialist in hypertension, known as high blood pressure.
The Joint National Committee (JNC) guidelines relaxed blood pressure goals in adults 60 and older from 140/90 to 150/90. Decreasing blood pressure below this degree is still encouraged in patients with heart disease and diabetes.
“The JNC is a group of physicians who reach a consensus on the goals of many treatments, including those for hypertension,” Dr. Gile said. “The research said that millions of adults, especially those over 60, who were thought to have poorly controlled hypertension could now be viewed as having adequately managed hypertension.
“The key factor here, however, is everyone is different,” Dr. Gile emphasized. “All medication decisions should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor. These new guidelines simply allow that conversation to get started.”
Dr. Gile noted that the guidelines’ lead author said the JNC created a simple document that clearly states: treat to 150/90 for those over 60 and 140/90 for everyone else.
“Again,” Dr. Gile cautioned, “patients should talk to their doctors before making any changes.”
The nephrologist noted that 30 percent of Americans have hypertension and the number is likely to go up. Contributing factors include an aging population, obesity and genetic factors.
“This is a lot of Americans,” Dr. Gile said. “And less than half of this 30 percent are getting their blood pressure controlled. We have to stay on top of this because of the risks associated with high blood pressure.”
Those risks include heart attack and stroke. For example, if hypertension is controlled, the risk of heart attack decreases by 25 percent and risk of stroke by 40 percent.
“These statistics are amazing and illustrate the importance of controlling hypertension,” Dr. Gile said, noting the condition can also lead to kidney problems.
“In a perfect world, control of hypertension could prevent all strokes, heart attacks and kidney issues,” he added. “Even though it is not a perfect world, proper control of high blood pressure can decrease the chances for these problems in millions of people.”
Dr. Gile’s home base is Wichita Nephrology Group; he has been treating patients for 20 years at St. Rose’s Specialty Clinic.
St. Rose is part of Centura Health, which connects individuals and families across western Kansas and Colorado with more than 6,000 physicians, 15 hospitals, seven senior-living communities, physician practices and clinics, and home-care and hospice services.