Medicine

Almost Half of Americans Have High Blood Pressure Under New Guidelines

Almost Half of Americans Have High Blood Pressure Under New Guidelines

While more Americans will be classified as having high blood pressure under the new guidelines, only a small percentage more may need medication in addition to the lifestyle changes that are emphasized in the recommendations. But don't worry too much-if you are one of the newly initiated, the experts aren't suggesting anything radical.

To assess your heart disease risk, visit the American College of Cardiology.

High blood pressure is now defined as 130/80, a change from the previous reading of 140/90.

"We didn't like either of those terms because we felt-at that stage-somebody is already at substantial increased risk", he said at a briefing Monday at the AHA's annual meeting in Anaheim, California.

Blood pressure of 120/80 or above is considered elevated; 130/80 to 139/89 is now considered Stage 1 hypertension and anything 140/90 or above will be considered stage 2 hypertension.

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. These individuals should start taking medicine to lower their numbers, the researchers said.

For example, doctors and nurses are urged to let patients rest five minutes first and then to average at least two readings over two visits.

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High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. “If you are going to put money into the healthcare system, its to everyones advantage if we treat and prevent on this side of it, in early treatment.”. Damage to the inside of arteries and other blood vessels can grow over time, and rates of hypertension increase with age.

The new guidelines incorporate data from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), which was a large, randomized controlled trial created to assess the impact of more aggressive versus standard blood pressure goals on hard cardiovascular outcomes. The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats. "We want to be straight with people - if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it".

"So some people might be thinking "oh my god" does that mean I need to be on medication, no it doesn't mean that". The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45 according to the report. The vast majority will be told to improve their lifestyles, with a healthier diet, weight loss, exercise and cutting back on alcohol and salt. Ferdinand is a professor of Clinical Medicine at the Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute and said rates of hypertension are even higher in the South than in other parts of the country.

"We're more specific about who should get treatment", Whelton said.

The guideline, the first comprehensive one in 14 years, homes in on making sure doctors offices and patients understand how to accurately measure blood pressure and diagnose hypertension in the first place. The four main classes of drugs for blood pressure have generic versions and can be as cheap as a few dollars a month.

Previously, those people were considered to have prehypertension, but not actual high blood pressure.


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