You walk into your doctor’s office for a physical exam and step on the scale. Last year, the doctor said you were overweight. Now he says you are obese — at the same weight.
A nurse takes your blood pressure. You have hypertension — with the same previously healthy reading you’ve had for years.
The doctor scans your wrist bone. You have a condition called “osteopenia” — with the same bone density that was fine last time you were measured.
While you haven’t changed, the definitions of disease have. Some wonder if we owe this change to the companies that make the drugs. Every time the boundary of a disease is expanded, even just a little, the market for drugs expands by millions of consumers and billions of dollars.
The result? Skyrocketing sales of prescription drugs and soaring health-care costs. Worst of all, millions of people are taking drugs that may carry a greater risk than the underlying condition.
I read about a woman who was taking medication to lower her blood pressure. When it became ineffective, the dose was doubled. This caused an allergic reaction which sent her to the hospital and could have been deadly. The same thing happened to a friend of mine, but he didn’t survive.
Heart experts released new guidelines for blood pressure on Monday, November 13, 2017, meaning millions more Americans – almost half of the adult population – will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Anyone with blood pressure higher than 130/80 (previously 140) will be considered to have hypertension, or high blood pressure, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology said in releasing their new joint guidelines. Interestingly, blood pressure often increases when you are in the doctor’s office!