Blood pressure guidelines tougher, more people to be diagnosed

15 November, 2017, 00:23 | Author: Andrea Terry
  • A patient getting blood pressure checked

That's according to new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, which state that 130/80 mm Hg or higher now constitutes high blood pressure, or hypertension.

Readings even below those numbers - previously called "pre-hypertension" or "high-normal blood pressure" - signify serious risks too. Though, if patients with stage one have additional risk factors, such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease, doctors may prescribe a medication, along with lifestyle changes. Normal is defined as 120/80 or less. "The days are pretty much over when doctors could walk into the office and tell people what to do, write a prescription and expect them to comply", he said on Twitter Tuesday.

A large, government-sponsored study of hypertension patients aged 50 and older showed in 2015 that death from heart-related causes fell 43 percent and heart failure rates dropped 38 percent when their systolic blood pressure was lowered below 120 versus those taken to a target of under 140.

"The new definition results in only a small increase in the percentage of US adults for whom antihypertensive medication is recommended in conjunction with lifestyle modification", according to the guidelines.

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


"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.

Healthy lifestyle changes include losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, not smoking, avoiding alcohol and salt, and reducing stress.

The new guidelines eliminate the prehypertension category.

The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times. The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke.

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

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