TTUHSC professor helps define new blood pressure guidelines

Eric MacLaughlin, Pharm.D.

Eric MacLaughlin, Pharm.D.

The new blood pressure guidelines for diagnosing hypertension released recently by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) represented several years of work and research by an interdisciplinary writing committee whose members represented 11 different organizations. One of those committee members, Eric MacLaughlin, Pharm.D., is a professor and chair for the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo.

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) approached MacLaughlin in October 2014 to be a possible APhA representative to the guideline writing committee. The ACC and AHA, who took the lead in developing these guidelines, eventually selected MacLaughlin as the committee’s lone pharmacy representative.

“As a member of the Guideline Writing Committee, my role was to lead the literature review and writing of the various sections to which I was assigned,” MacLaughlin explained. “All of the authors also served to review, edit and revise the guidelines and their accompanying documents, including the data supplement tables and results of the meta-analyses that were undertaken by the Evidence Review Committee specifically for these guidelines.”

MacLaughlin said the goal of the new guideline is to ultimately improve public health and decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with elevated blood pressure.

“Hypertension remains the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide,” he added.

According to an online ACC new story published Nov. 13, the new guidelines eliminate the prehypertension category and will now classify patients as having either Elevated (120-129 and less than 80) or Stage I hypertension (130-139 or 80-89). The former guidelines classified 140/90 mm Hg as Stage 1 hypertension, a level classified as Stage 2 hypertension by the new guidelines.

In addition, the ACC news story said the new guidelines stress the importance of using proper technique to measure blood pressure; recommend the use of home blood pressure monitoring using validated devices; and highlight the value of appropriate training of health care providers to reveal “white-coat hypertension.”

Other guideline changes include a recommendation that clinicians only prescribe medication for Stage I hypertension patients who have already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke and those who are deemed to be at high risk of heart attack or stroke based upon their age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk using the same risk calculator used in evaluating high cholesterol.

“The guidelines will undergo a periodic review and will be updated as newer literature becomes available,” MacLaughlin said.

Related Stories

TTUHSC’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Hosts Student Research Week

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences hosted its 34th Annual Student Research Week March 8-11.

TTUHSC Researcher Receives NIH Grant to Study Vulnerabilities in Specific Cancer Types

The National Cancer Institute awarded a five-year, $1.9 million grant to C. Patrick Reynolds, M.D., Ph.D., director for the School of Medicine Cancer Center at TTUHSC.

The Hype Around Artificial Intelligence

Richard Greenhill, DHA, FISQua, FACHE, discusses the hype and reality surrounding AI in healthcare.

Recent Stories


TTUHSC Class of 2022 Honored at Commencement Ceremonies

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) recently hosted traditional commencement ceremonies for its 1,595-member Class of 2022.


TTUHSC Announces the Julia Jones Matthews School of Population and Public Health

The school, which is the sixth at the university, aims to train future health care leaders in population and public health.


TTUHSC Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy Class of 2022 Honored at Commencement Ceremony

The TTUHSC Jerry H. Hodge School of Pharmacy celebrated the Class of 2022 May 21 with its annual commencement ceremony.