Image copyright AFP Image caption Some people may put up to 30% off their blood pressure reading
Nearly one in five US adults – or 28 million – have hypertension, with many taking multiple medicines to combat it, according to new research.
An analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at 12 drugs prescribed as first-line treatment for high blood pressure in people under 50.
Researchers found some people with the condition may be able to reduce their blood pressure reading using less medication.
There were three times as many adults taking tablets or liquids with a low dose of medication as others, the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found.
“Currently, there is a lack of consensus on the optimal dose of dietary and lifestyle intervention,” one of the study’s authors David Colombo said.
The study analysed data from 2006 to 2012. From these, it has found that of the more than one billion prescriptions for blood pressure pills dispensed, 47% are for more than one medicine.
The study suggests people who take two or more medicines to lower their blood pressure may see a reduction in their reading of as much as 9%.
In a study of 4,651 US adults, the researchers found 10% had taken two or more medicines with a lower, lower or equal dose of blood pressure pills.
To reduce blood pressure by more than 10%, patients take two or more medicines with a low dose of medication.
The medicines included those including Diazepam, the drug used to treat epilepsy, and, in certain cases, Viagra.
Another 1% of patients used four or more medicines, while another 5% of patients had taken no medicines at all to lower their blood pressure.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Low doses of some medications may be just right for some people
“When dosing medication, the main areas of focus among patients on treatment decisions are side effects and cost,” Timothy Hood, the study’s senior author, said.
The study found, for example, that the optimal dose for one of the drugs used to control high blood pressure was between 20mg and 25mg, to be taken three times a day, once in the morning and again in the evening.
However, the study found, that many patients were taking higher doses – possibly for the hope of a lower blood pressure reading, because they were thinking the drugs would improve their health.
“There needs to be a shift in thinking from a ‘dose management’ framework to what are they feeling and how are they thinking about how their body responds,” said Dr Hood.
The authors conclude: “Given the growing burden of cardiovascular diseases in the US (particularly ischemic heart disease), we recommend that further studies of appropriate dosing of blood pressure medications among diabetes and hypertension patients be performed.”
The researchers stressed they had used US data, which is not internationally consistent.