New blood pressure range means almost half of Americans have hypertension

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

For the first time in more than a decade the American Heart Association is changing the guidelines for blood pressure.

The new guidelines reflect years of research, which have shown that people within the new range of blood pressure defined as hypertension have doubled their risk of cardiovascular problems in the future, such as heart attacks or strokes.

According to Ferdinand, high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart conditions that lead to death and disability in America. "It's a nice combination of understanding accurately average blood pressure and also understanding underlying risk".

"In young healthy people with flexible blood vessels, elastic and compliant, the numbers tend to be low or normal", said Dr Mark Lampert, A NorthShore University Healthsystem Cardiologist.

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.

High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. "We expect this guideline will cause our society and our physician community to really pay attention much more to lifestyle recommendations".

As for patients with elevated (120-129/ 80 mm Hg) blood pressure or Stage 1 (130-139/80-89 mm Hg) who are otherwise healthy, the guidelines say they should make healthy lifestyle changes.

The lower threshold means an estimated 46 percent of US adults have hypertension, up from 32 percent using the previous definition.

Additionally, Ferdinand said he hopes people will "be less comfortable with blood pressures that put them at risk, and will now seek attention and treatment when they might not have before".

- High blood pressure rates could almost triple among men age 20 to 44 – up to 30 percent from 11 percent. "Masked hypertension is more sinister and very important to recognize because these people seem to have a similar risk as those with sustained high blood pressure". She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. They were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies.

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.

Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.

According to a press release, the new guidelines were developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations.

And Stage 2 occurs at levels of 140 over 90.

The update by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association is based on a three-year review of nearly 1,000 studies.

“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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