October 15, 2018

New Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean Yours Might be Too High Now

14 November 2017, 12:47 | Silvia Roy

GETTY Images Salt is one of the main causes of high blood pressure

High blood pressure patient

The new guidelines included specific instructions for physicians treating African-American patients, who are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure and may respond to certain medications differently than white people.

That means now almost half of U.S. adults have stage 1 hypertension and need to make urgent lifestyle changes to bring that number down. But don't worry too much-if you are one of the newly initiated, the experts aren't suggesting anything radical.

However, with research showing complications occurring in readings of 130/80, the American Heart Association officially redefined the criteria for high blood pressure - a reading of 120/80.

The new definition will increase the rate of Americans with high blood pressure from about 33 percent to nearly 50 percent, according to Keith Ferdinand, a cardiovascular doctor and guidelines reviewer for the report in which the findings were published. Other research, including a new study released just this week, shows the American Heart Association's DASH diet lowers blood pressure and reduces people's risk of stroke and heart failure.

Elevated: The top number is between 120 and 129 while the bottom number is below 80.

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Almost half of USA adults are classified as having high blood pressure under new national guidelines announced Monday, up from one-third of Americans by the old definition. These individuals should start taking medicine to lower their numbers, the researchers said.

While many patients need multiple drugs to get their blood pressure into a healthy range, most treatments are available as less-expensive generic pills.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the USA, killing 800,000 Americans and accounting for 670,000 heart attacks annually.

In 2010, high blood pressure was the leading cause of death worldwide and the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States, after cigarette smoking. Blood pressure is affected by a wide variety of factors including genetics, age, diet, exercise, stress and other diseases such as diabetes.

A blood pressure reading is generally given as a ratio, with normal being 120 millimeters over 80 millimeters of mercury, or mmHg.

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Those with a top reading over 130 and a bottom reading above 80 have "high blood pressure", which is also known as "stage 1 hypertension". Diastolic pressure is measured when the heart relaxes between beats. "We want to be straight with people-if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it".

The change is expected to have the biggest effect on men and women under the age of 45. Home readings can also identify "masked hypertension", when pressure is normal in a medical setting but elevated at home, thus necessitating treatment with lifestyle and possibly medications.

They also recommend a new approach to accurately measure blood pressure.

"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", he said, in a statement.

Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively low-priced generics.

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