Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Health Care | By Alberto Manning

New Guidelines Mean Millions More Americans Need to Lower Blood Pressure

New Guidelines Mean Millions More Americans Need to Lower Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association redefined what it means to have high blood pressure. 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.

Almost half of the U.S adult population is now considered to have high blood pressure.

The new guidelines define high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 130/80 and higher which is down from the old definition of 140/90 and higher.

High blood pressure accounts for the second-largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths in the United States, second only to smoking.

The guidelines were presented at the heart association's annual Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, Calif.

The challenge with the previous guideline is a patient with a reading of 135 over 85 may not have been treated for high blood pressure, Gandhi said.

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"The prevalence of hypertension among US adults is substantially higher when the definition in the present guideline is used versus the [older] definition (46% versus 32%)", the authors write. He says they will prevent disease by encouraging early treatment.

The guidelines recommend lifestyle changes, eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, rich in potassium - bananas, potatoes, avocados, leafy green vegetables - weight loss, exercise, and cutting out alcohol and tobacco.

Dr. Shearer says people are usually diagnosed with high blood pressure in their 50's and 60's when arteries get stiffer but he says people as young as teens should get their blood pressure checked.

Today, millions of Americans who didn't have high blood pressure before have it now. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

"For the first time millions of American may be told that they have elevated blood pressure, whereas previously they've been told that their blood pressure is O.K.", says Dr. Andrew Calvin with the Cardiac Center at Mayo Clinic Health System.

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.

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