The nation's heart experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure Monday, a change that will sharply increase the number of US adults considered hypertensive in the hope that they, and their doctors, will address the deadly condition sooner.
Adults with blood pressure of 130/80 "already have double the risk of heart attack compared to someone in the normal range", said Dr. Paul Whelton, professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans and lead author of the new guidelines.
According to Ferdinand, high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart conditions that lead to death and disability in America.
The U.S. government in 2013 asked the AHA and ACC to draft new guidelines for blood pressure management, said ACC President Dr. Mary Walsh.
Doctors now recognise that complications "can occur at those lower numbers", said the first update to comprehensive United States guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003. "We expect this guideline will cause our society and our physician community to really pay attention much more to lifestyle recommendations".
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. High blood pressure can stress vessels and cause them to be less elastic, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
"It's normal to have a systolic blood pressure of 120 and a diastolic below 80, and that's what we should all be aiming to have", Whelton said. They found that the lower the blood pressure, the better the health outcomes.
Because the numbers are so important, experts are also issuing rules for measuring blood pressure.
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High blood pressure raises the risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems. It will also disproportionately affect younger people by tripling the number of men under 45 and doubling the number of women under 45 with the diagnosis.
The change reclassifies 14 percent of U.S. adults, who were once deemed "high normal" and now have a more critical diagnosis. She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. "It doesn't mean you need medication, but it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure".
Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair.
The new classifications and recommendations are specific in how they determine who is at risk and what they should do about it, Jamerson said. They were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies.
Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.
To assess your heart disease risk, visit the American College of Cardiology. The lower number is the diastolic reading, or the pressure level between the contractions when the heart is filling with blood.
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.