Hypertension: How low should be blood pressure levels?

When should we be worried about blood pressure? Is it always necessary to take medication? The more blood pressure is lowered, the better is it?

Let's see what we need to know in order to answer these questions...

First we have to know is that, as we get older, our blood pressure becomes higher. This way, blood pressure values of 140/80 mmHg would be adequate in a 78 year-old male but too high in a 16 year-old teenager. So, age is a factor to be taken into account.

Second, the risk of having a cardiovascular disease grows in a constant way as blood pressure levels increase. For instance, a meta-analysis from Prospective Studies Collaboration showed that stroke risk is increased from a systolic blood pressure of 115 mmHg. Although it is difficult to established a fixed limit, there is a wide agreement among the world scientific societies in order to define what is normal blood pressure and elevated blood pressure.

Third, and finally, the aphorism “the lower, the better” is not always acceptable. An excessive decrease in blood pressure may produce well known symptoms (dizziness, tiredness, palpitations) and other more unnoticed but sometimes more damaging alterations such as renal failure, alterations in memory or angina. This phenomenon is known as “J-curve” and shows that having high blood pressure values can be as harmful as having too low ones.

For all these reasons, and taking into account the large number of studies published to this day, we can claim that:

Remember, however, that these are general recommendations and that treatment must always be individualised, that is, adjusted to your particular case. Therefore, we recommend medical supervision before any change in your treatment.

Finally, do not forget that anyone with high blood pressure must control other vascular risk factors such as excessive body weight, cholesterol levels or tobacco use, among others. The presence of more than one of these factors multiplies the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases.