Americans with blood pressure of 130/80 or higher should be treated, down from the previous trigger of 140/90, according to new guidelines announced on Monday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, California. As such, health care professionals should be identifying these patients and helping to initiate interventions to bring down blood pressure.
Under the new guidelines, 14% of more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, making almost half of American adults at risk for major health problems. However, there will only be a small increase in the number of US adults who will require antihypertensive medication, authors said. Writing down these readings at home can help tell the difference between people with truly abnormal blood pressure and those with "white-coat syndrome" - with high blood pressure only under stress like at the doctor's office.
Previously, those people were considered to have prehypertension, but not actual high blood pressure.
This chart shows the changes made to the high blood pressure guidelines.
Eating a well balanced diet, working out regularly and maintaining a healthy weight are all things that can reduce your risk of suffering from other illnesses like heart disease and stoke. In addition to tightening the definition of high blood pressure, the new report does away with the old category of "pre-hypertension", which was defined as a top (systolic) reading of 120 to 139 or a bottom (diastolic) number between 80 and 89.
"You've already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure", he said.
"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. "It doesn't mean you need medication, but it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches". People with those readings will now be categorized as having Elevated, which is 120-129 and less than 80, or Stage I hypertension, which measures at 130-139 and 80-89. That's a change from the old definition of 140/90 mm Hg and higher. 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. Ferdinand is a professor of Clinical Medicine at the Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute and said rates of hypertension are even higher in the South than in other parts of the country. "If you're only going to focus on events, that ignores the process when it's beginning". Blood pressure is affected by a wide variety of factors including genetics, age, diet, exercise, stress and other diseases such as diabetes.
The experts estimate "a projected increase in patients with stage 1 hypertension requiring drug therapy of 1.9 percent", Carey said. There are no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called, "the silent killer". "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".
These new guidelines give patients a voice because it gives them an opportunity to ask healthcare providers, Whats my risk? Jamerson said.