Who is making money when the blood pressure standard change?

by drt on December 21, 2013

I saw the news flash on hypertension guidelines can be eased on TV this morning. I then went to search it online and found the following article, “Hypertension Guidelines Can Be Eased, Panel Says” in the NY Times.

Reading that article just made me wonder. What a coincidence?

Last week when I went to see my doctor complaining about the side effects of my blood pressure medications, she was frustrated and said: “Aris, we have run out of the blood pressure medications that would not give you a side effect.”

I mentioned about Dr. Stephen Sinatra’s suggestions for taking supplements for lowering the blood pressure in his book, Reverse Heart Disease Now: Stop Deadly Cardiovascular Plaque Before It’s Too Late, but my doctor was probably too busy to read new books. She even asked me, who is Dr. Stephen Sinatra? We then settled on the frequency and dosage of taking my medications, and she only agreed for the addition of magnesium that was in the list of Dr. Sinatra, but she had no suggestion on the d-Ribose, CoQ10 and L-Carnitine that was on my were in the same list.

imageThe second thing that tickled me was the fact that last week I just got this book by a Japanese Doctor, Makoto Kondo with the title: “47 tips for not being killed by doctors – the way to live a healthy and longer life by distancing yourself from medical care and medicines.” I was lucky to have both the original Japanese version as well as its Chinese version. That really help me to grab the contents without any difficulty.

Dr. Makoto Kondo

Dr. Makoto Kondo is a radiologist at Keio University School of Medicine. As described in many of his books, and most of them are the best sellers in Japan, Dr. Kondo emphasizes that the chemotherapy doesn’t work on most “solid tumor” cancers, and it’s likely to shorten a patient’s life. After 30 years of studying the literatures, Dr. Kondo found no credible evidence that anticancer drugs for anything other than leukemia, testicular or uterus cancer prolongs the lives of cancer patients in any meaningful way. I came across his books while searching the information about cancer treatments in Japan. I love them after went through the review section in Amazon and have got most of them in my personal library now.

The funny part is, in the tips #4, (You) can’t say blood pressure of 130 is sick, Dr. Kondo just discussed about the hypertension guidelines.

Here is the excerpt for that tip.

Number alone can’t be used to decide the sickness!

Back in 1998, the Japanese Official Standard for high blood pressure was 160/95 mmHg. However, without any clear reason, the standard was lowered to 140/90. Based on the 1998 standards, the total number of blood pressure patients was 16,000,000. With the new standard, the number after that jumped up to 37,000,000.

Starting in 2008, for Metabolism checkup of the age group of 19 – 64, it was decided that those with the diabetic or kidney problems, then the blood pressure above 130/80 became the targets for treatment.

Ninety percent of the blood pressure causes were unknown. However, there were no data to support that lowering the BP standard for the Japanese decreasing the mortality rate or reducing the number of cardiovascular and stroke patients.

As people growing older, the aging process will stiffen the blood vessels, and the force to push the blood to the tips also reduced. In order to push the blood to the brain or the tips of our feet, the blood pressure is raised accordingly. Now, by using the medicine to lower the blood pressure, there is a possibility to cause dementia or limping.

There was a study in Finland to observe 512 men and women between 75 – 85 that were not using blood pressure lowering drugs. The finding was, for those above 80 with blood pressure over 180 has a higher survival rate, and those with 140 or below have a lower survival rate.

Even with that, Japan still considered that the people with BP over 130 are sick and need to take the blood pressure lowering drugs.

Reading the NY Times articles, I was laughing because once again, Dr. Kondo is right.

Who was Making Money When the Number was lowered?

Of course, the pharmaceutical companies were laughing all the way to their banks.

In 1998, the blood pressure medicines’ sales revenue was JY200 billions (200,000,000,000). In 2008, the sales surpassed JY1 trillions.

With the manipulation of the BP index, the sales jumped almost six times. The method seems to be very successful.

The other problem is, many of the panel members received a lot of monetary contributions from the pharmaceutical industries. For example, some of the members of the 2005 Japanese Metabolism Standard Panel which also covered the blood pressure guideline, were doctors from 11 State and Private Universities. During the three-year period from 2002 – 2004, they received a total contribution of JY 140 billions from the pharmaceutical companies that making the blood pressure medicine.

….

Is there the same manipulation here in the US? I don’t know.

However, one thing is certain in Japan. Dr. Kondo is still a pariah in medical community there because of his controversial stance. Even though after 40 years, the university keeps Dr. Makoto Kondo as an Eternal Lecturer, and has prevented him to become a Full Professor, but once again, he is right. Even the US is getting rid with the lower BP standard.

I’m not and MD and I’m not sure how soon this guideline would be accepted by all the doctors here. I saw, there are two more articles that can be found from the link on the NY Times article above, describing “how many people in the US will be affected,” as well as “3 Things to Know About the New Blood Pressure Guidelines.

At least next time I will talk to my doctor and see if I can discard the BP medicines I’ve taken for almost 25 years. In addition, one of the requirements to receive a reward in our annual wellness program in my company is, the BP has to be lowered than 135/85. I just wonder if they would also change that requirement next year? Last year I failed, because my BP was 142/86, and when the nurse repeated the measurement, it went up instead of down. :D

Last modified: September 5, 2014

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly December 21, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Informative! Insightful!
Thank you for sharing and helping us take better care of ourselves!! Healthy 100 years old!!

drt December 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Thank you, Kelly. I think in this case, by increasing the number, instead of making money, the pharmaceutical industry is going to losing money, isn’t it?

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