Some blood pressure treatment may be risky to heart health

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When individuals are hospitalized for conditions unrelated to heart health, it’s not uncommon for their blood pressure to spike. This could be due to stress, pain, or reactions to medications.

While high blood pressure is known to contribute to serious complications like heart attacks, there are instances where it temporarily rises without causing immediate harm, a situation known as ‘asymptomatic hypertension’.

Despite the lack of immediate symptoms, medical practitioners often prescribe medications to lower these elevated levels.

A study conducted by doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center sheds light on the potential risks associated with administering aggressive blood pressure medications to older adults hospitalized for non-cardiac issues.

The research suggests that this well-intentioned practice might inadvertently lead to adverse outcomes, particularly when medications are delivered intravenously.

Involving over 66,000 senior patients, the study revealed that about 20% received potent blood pressure medications during their hospital stay, medications they had not been taking prior to admission. Notably, 18% of these patients received their medication via an IV drip.

The findings were alarming. Patients treated with these powerful blood pressure medications experienced a higher incidence of heart and kidney problems, and a significant number needed intensive care. The risks were even greater for those receiving medication through an IV drip.

Dr. Timothy Anderson, the lead researcher, cautions against the immediate lowering of blood pressure in hospitalized patients.

He advocates for a more cautious approach, suggesting that the practice of administering potent blood pressure medications, especially via IV, should be reconsidered.

Anderson’s advice is to reexamine the necessity of routine blood pressure checks in the hospital setting, proposing that the current approach to managing asymptomatic hypertension may need a thorough overhaul.

He emphasizes the importance of ensuring that the administration of strong blood pressure medications is reserved for cases where it’s truly needed.

The study highlights a critical aspect of hospital care, suggesting that a spike in blood pressure among hospitalized patients doesn’t always signal a crisis. Intervening with strong medications to lower blood pressure may, in some cases, do more harm than good.

This research underscores the need for medical professionals to carefully evaluate the benefits and risks of blood pressure management strategies in the hospital setting, ensuring that treatment decisions are aligned with the best interests of the patient.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, this study adds to the growing body of evidence on the complexities of blood pressure control, urging healthcare providers to adopt a more nuanced approach to treating hypertension in hospitalized patients.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about how diets could help lower high blood pressure, and 3 grams of omega-3s a day keep high blood pressure at bay.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about how tea and coffee influence your risk of high blood pressure, and results showing this olive oil could reduce blood pressure in healthy people.

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