Posts Tagged ‘diastolic hypertension’

Internet graphic.


Interestingly, the latest recommendations for in-office readings suggest electronic devices for more accuracy rather than this type or mercury machines.


From the Blogfinger Off-Shore School of Medicine.  Paul Goldfinger MD, FACC Dean.  Ocean Grove, NJ.


Blogfinger has  reported on diagnostic and treatment guidelines for systemic hypertension. (“High blood pressure”).

In 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology came out with new parameters.   They reported that the diagnostic cutoff had been reduced from the long-time standard of 140/90 down to 130/80.  That means that the diagnosis of hypertension would be made if one’s blood pressure stabilized at over 130/80.

There remains controversy over these guidelines, plus there are many variations on the theme, such as when to start drug therapy, factoring in age,  and how to judge success.

The stakes are high,  because so many have this diagnosis, and hypertension poses an increased risk of a variety of complications including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, kidney failure, and mortality.

Most of the time if the top number (systolic) is high, then the bottom number (diastolic) is often elevated as well.   Doctors have usually focused their attention on the systolic readings, but now, because the normal diastolic cutoff is above 80 instead of 90, physicians are more likely to be concerned about the diastolic as well because more people will carry the diagnosis of diastolic hypertension.

A small percent of patients have “isolated diastolic hypertension”  (high diastolic—over 80 mmHg; normal systolic–less than 130 mm Hg,)  but there is some controversy as to the risk of those diastolic elevations.  Using the new criteria, it is estimated that 6.5% of the population have this issue.

In general, it has been felt that isolated diastolic hypertension is harmless. But there are few long term clinical trials looking at this.

William McEvoy is professor of preventive cardiology at the National University of Ireland and he said in an interview with Medscape, “Our data suggest that there is no harm of having a diastolic pressure above 80 mm Hg if the systolic is below 130 mmHg and that the new 80 mmHg diastolic threshold means that 12 million adults in the US will be labeled as hypertensive but will not benefit from the diagnosis and may be given unnecessary treatment.”

In another quote he said, “If an individual has normal systolic blood pressure (less than 130 according to new guidelines,)  our data suggest that it doesn’t really matter what the diastolic blood pressure is.”

But Paul Whelton, MD, chair of the 2017 AA/AHA guideline committee said he agreed that systolic pressure is the more important measure for predicting cardiovascular risk and for making drug treatment decisions. But he felt that a diastolic of over 90 should be treated, especially in high risk patients such as those with prior cardiovascular disease.

I saw my own eminent cardiologist recently. I brought my record of home readings for his review, and he noticed that my systolic was fine at 110-120 but he raised his eyebrows above the top edge of his computer screen when he saw that my diastolic readings were 80-85.  He was reacting to the new guidelines for diastolic pressure, but he could not bring himself to raise my anti-hypertensive drug dosing.

His decision was totally correct, independent of my opinion,  since trying to lower that number could produce some unpleasant side effects, and, as noted above, the evidence for his changing my treatment for this is simply not compelling enough.  And the best doctors react to more than just numbers.

Here is a link to our 2019 review of new guidelines and related topics:

BF guideline review for hypertension. March, 2019.

If you check our search box. (above right) you can find our recent 4-part series “Confessions of a High Blood Pressure Doctor”


BOB DYLAN: A musical tribute for those doctors and researchers who maintain normal blood pressures to the brain and prevent strokes:


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