Most of the 68 million patients in the United States with high blood pressure have mild, or Stage 1, hypertension, defined as a systolic (top number) value of 140-159 or a diastolic (bottom number) value of 90-99. The new review suggests that many patients with hypertension are overtreated—they are subjected to the possible harms of drug treatment without any benefit.
...Since many doctors and professional societies have been promoting treatment for mild hypertension for decades, the astute reader might wonder why this analysis was conducted only recently. The reasons are complex, but in a nutshell, researchers simply never addressed the question: Does treatment of mild hypertension help or harm patients? Instead, many authorities simply assumed that treatment helped, probably because treatment of more severe hypertension has been shown to be beneficial. In most clinical trials, patients with all degrees of hypertension were simply lumped together.
...But the fact that no benefit was detected in the Cochrane analysis means that any benefit is likely to be small—if present at all. And there’s always the possibility that the drugs cause a slight net harm. Some of the drugs are known to cause serious complications, including death.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Does that mean ignorance is bliss?: