Rarely does tweaking a health guideline double the disease burden. It happened last week when the United States decided to lower the threshold for reading high blood pressure. By lowering it from 140/90 to 130/80, they put nearly half of American adults under the hypertensive bracket. The guideline by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) is sweeping but has come into effect after a large study showed pretty ‘convincing’ data that markedly lower blood pressure was both beneficial and achievable.
After the Americans, will half of Indian adults also fall in high BP band?
India has no data, and hence, no specific guideline of its own. So far, it has followed the American guideline. But if it continues to, millions of Indians will be deemed hypertensive overnight
Overnight, the number of hypertensive men under age 45 tripled and the number of women under 45 doubled when America revised its high blood pressure guideline last week
There's scattered research evidence favouring the revision in India but in the absence of epidemiological data, preventive cardiologists and general physicians are left hand-wringing
But all agree a national debate is on the cards, especially with EU revising its guideline next year. Lower is better in blood pressure reading today
As doctors fear a push for aggressive drug therapy, the nearly-Rs 6000 crore anti-hypertensives industry, already in double-digit growth, will have no pressure whatsoever