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Systolic readings can simplify blood pressure measurement

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Blood pressure measurement could be done more simply and just as accurately using only systolic readings in patients over 50, according to researchers writing online in The Lancet.

They argue that systolic blood pressure is a better predictor of hypertension risk than diastolic pressure and using only one figure would be easier to communicate to patients.

Systolic blood pressure can continue to rise with age but diastolic pressure stops rising at about age 50 and, therefore, most hypertension in older patients is down to systolic pressure increase, they say.

‘We believe that systolic blood pressure should become the sole defining feature of hypertension and key treatment target for people over age 50 years…[this] will simplify the message for practitioners and for patients, will improve awareness and understanding of treatment objectives, and will ultimately lead to more effective treatment of high blood pressure,’ the authors said. ‘Such an initiative would have major public-health implications for the prevention of blood-pressure related cardiovascular disease.’

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