Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

New blood pressure guidelines for "silent, deadly health crisis"

New blood pressure guidelines for

In an attempt to address potentially deadly conditions in patients much earlier, the American Heart Association presented new guidelines by lowering the defining numbers for high blood pressure.

At the new cutoff, around 46 percent, or more than 103 million, of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure, compared with an estimated 72 million under the previous guidelines in place since 2003.

Patients with blood pressure of 130/80 would now be diagnosed with hypertension or abnormally high blood pressure.

Tighter blood pressure guidelines from USA heart organizations mean millions more people need to make lifestyle changes, or start taking medication, in order to avoid cardiovascular problems.

"We want to be straight with people - if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it".

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"There are millions of people that fall into this category that's now called Stage One Hypertension who previously we were calling normal blood pressures", Cardiology Director for the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Hartford Healthcare Corporation at MidState Medical Center Dr. Bill Farrell said.

Concerns about those side effects, as well as the fact that the close monitoring seen in a clinical trial is hard to replicate, led the AHA, ACC and other groups to select the 130 systolic blood pressure target.

The proper technique must be used to measure blood pressure, and levels "should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions", according to the new guidelines. However, most of the people now considered to have hypertension will be treated with lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise improvements, and not blood pressure medication, according to the authors. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

High blood pressure is the No. 2 cause of preventable heart disease and stroke behind smoking, Gandhi said. Before, both these ranges were classified as "prehypertension", and 140-159/90-99 was "stage 1 hypertension".

Experts said the majority of Americans affected won't need medication but will need to make lifestyle changes.

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