Richard G. Petty, MD

The Risks of “Pre-hypertension”

It often seems as if treatment guidelines change every year. The levels at which experts recommend treating cholesterol, glucose levels and blood pressure have all changed recently. Some cynics say that it’s all a device by drug companies to get more people on treatment, but that’s not really true. The guidelines change as we get more evidence that not treating something leads to bad consequences in the future. A good example would be the level at which experts recommend treating elevated blood glucose. The recommendation was changed when it was discovered that even small elevations of glucose could have a dramatic impact on the development of coronary artery disease.

We now have another change, this time with blood pressure. Everyone knows that high blood pressure can be dangerous. But researchers have recently defined something that we call pre-hypertension (a systolic blood pressure 120 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure 80 to 89 mm Hg). What was not known for sure was what impact pre-hypertension would have on the incidence of cardiovascular disease.

A study published in the journal Hypertension has clarified the issue. The research involved 2629 people participating in the twelve-year-long Strong Heart Study. Pre-hypertension was more common in people with diabetes. And as expected, from the link between blood pressure and insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose in pre-hypertensive people greatly increased the risk of developing cardiovascular disease risk. We now need to do more research to see if interventions, such as drug treatment for blood pressure control for pre-hypertensive individuals are warranted. This is particularly important if people also have impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance, or diabetes is warranted, because risk factors for coronary artery disease are cumulative: the more risk factors, the bigger the risk.

What this means is that your health care provider should help you keep your blood pressure lower than we thought, particularly if you have a personal or a family history of problems with blood glucose or of heart disease.

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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