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Under new guidelines, nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure

14 November 2017, 01:21 | Rodolfo Wallace

Don’t just get your BP taken make sure it’s taken the right way

Don’t just get your BP taken make sure it’s taken the right way

High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication - at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 - according to the first comprehensive new high blood pressure guidelines in more than a decade.

The new guidelines define high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 130/80 and higher which is down from the old definition of 140/90 and higher.

Americans will be getting instructions on how to check their blood pressure every day to keep up with how they are doing. A person's level should be the average of several readings, including those done outside of the doctor's office.

Damage to blood vessels begins soon after blood pressure is elevated, said Whelton, who is the Show Chwan professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans.

Still, the guideline – in the works for about three years and based on hundreds of studies and clinical trials – doesnt suggest a massive increase in the number of people who will need to take medication to control hypertension.

The guidelines "have the potential of improving the health of millions", and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

To help understand the new hypertension guidelines and how they affect managing your health, see your healthcare professional.

"This a major leap forward in bringing to our attention to the importance of the intensive treatment of elevated blood pressures, which is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, risk factor for heart attack and stroke", Ferdinand said. In addition to tightening the definition of high blood pressure, the new report does away with the old category of "pre-hypertension", which was defined as a top (systolic) reading of 120 to 139 or a bottom (diastolic) number between 80 and 89. "One of the most important lifestyle modifications would be reduction of weight, which as you know obesity is an epidemic in this country, even losing 10 pounds can make a difference, 10-percent is the equivalent of blood pressure pills".

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The new guidelines from the AHA mean that almost half of all American adults - 46 percent - suffer from hypertension.

Regarding the move to a lower threshold for hypertension, Whelton pointed to the dangers of blood pressure levels between 130-139/80-89 mm Hg.

The change is expected to have the biggest effect on men and women under the age of 45.

"People with white-coat hypertension do not seem to have the same elevation in risk as someone with true sustained high blood pressure", Whelton said.

In developing the guidelines, authors also analyzed more than 900 research studies, excluding those that did not meet strict research requirements. "It doesn't mean you need medication, but it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure".

Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.

“Yes, we will label more people hypertensive and give more medication, but we will save lives and money by preventing more strokes, cardiovascular events and kidney failure, ” said Kenneth Jamerson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and hypertension specialist at the University of Michigan Health System.



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