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Opinion piece on blood pressure treatment considered controversial

An article in Forbes analyzes the likely impact of an opinion piece published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which journalist Peter Lipson concludes is “sure to start some fights.”

In the JAMA column, retired but respected physician Iona Heath argues that mild high blood pressure is over-treated, and that medical professionals should raise the blood pressure rate at which they begin prescribing medication.

Not only might the blood pressure drugs be unnecessary in mild cases, but they may also present some health risks of their own.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the blood pressure drug Benicar increases the risk of heart-related deaths. A recent Mayo Clinic report has also linked the drug to stomach problems including chronic diarrhea, vomiting, intestinal inflammation and weight loss.

Lipson writes that high blood pressure, or hypertension, is undertreated overall and contributes to more than a third of a million deaths annually in the United States. That’s not controversial.

But the blood pressure medication Heath addresses in her column represents preventative treatment for people who have not yet suffered a hypertension-related problem such as heart attack or stroke.

Heath argues that the current goal of keeping blood pressure under 140/90 is too aggressive, and the threshold should be raised to 160/100, according to Forbes.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns, and before making any changes in medication. You should also consult with a lawyer if you have injuries connected with Benicar.