Should I Take Medication for High Blood Pressure?

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: Blood Pressure, Q&As, Heart Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

I would like to know your thoughts on taking medication for mild hypertension. My blood pressure readings are usually around 150/96. My doctor feels that is a little high and thinks I should be taking medication. I know you can't specifically tell me what to do because I'm not under your care, but I would like your thoughts on the matter. I don't smoke, I'm 53 years old, and am generally in good health.

 

I am of the firm opinion that most medical doctors are way too quick to prescribe medication for blood pressure. Realistically, however, when you go to a medical doctor with a problem, what else can he or she do?

In their all-out effort to control blood pressure problems, doctors often overlook the potential health problems caused by blood pressure medications.

The famous Framingham study helps illustrate this point. It was shown that a 40-year-old male with a systolic pressure of 150 only had a 0.3 percent chance of dying from hypertension each year for the next eight years if he had no other risk factors. On the other hand, a male with the same pressure who had four other risk factors (high cholesterol, glucose handling problems, enlargement of the left ventricle of the heart, and a smoker) had a 6.5 percent chance of dying each year due to hypertension.

While blood pressure medication might be a lifesaver to the second gentleman, it would probably be of no benefit to the first man. In fact, it could create even more health risks.

It's not done much these days, but before any medication is prescribed, the patient should be evaluated on an individual basis. It's hard for me to believe that all of the exercise, diet and nutritional options have been exhausted in your case. Even so, if you have none of the other risk factors associated with heart disease, I would discuss the above study with your doctor before deciding on any course of treatment.

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