Health Care

Half of United States adults have high blood pressure under new guidelines

Half of United States adults have high blood pressure under new guidelines

"Nine out of every 10 times you see high blood pressure, it's because the diet or the nutrition isn't as good as it could be, it's because we're not as physically active as we could be and should be, and perhaps it's because we're consuming too much alcohol", lead guidelines author Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, said in a video released by the American Heart Association (AHA).

To assess your heart disease risk, visit the American College of Cardiology.

High pressure has long meant a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, but that has dropped to 130/80, according to a report published by the American Heart Association on Monday.

"We didn't like either of those terms because we felt-at that stage-somebody is already at substantial increased risk", he said at a briefing Monday at the AHA's annual meeting in Anaheim, California.

The guidelines stress the importance of home blood pressure monitoring using validated devices and appropriate training of healthcare providers to reveal "white-coat hypertension", which occurs when pressure is elevated in a medical setting but not in everyday life.

High blood pressure raises the risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems. These individuals should start taking medicine to lower their numbers, the researchers said.

It is often referred to as the "silent killer", quietly damaging arteries and organs until it leads to a stroke or a heart attack.

But patients in the 120 systolic blood pressure group had a higher rate of kidney injury or failure, as well as fainting.

Damage to blood vessels begins soon after blood pressure is elevated, said Whelton, who is the Show Chwan professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans.

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Often called the “silent killer” because there are often no obvious symptoms, hypertension accounts for more heart disease and stroke deaths than nearly all other preventable causes.

But the guidelines also press for more judicious treatment of high blood pressure - sometimes called hypertension - and an emphasis on lifestyle risk factors.

"We're recognizing that blood pressures that we in the past thought were normal or so-called "pre-hypertensive" actually placed the patient at significant risk for heart disease and death and disability", said Robert M. Carey, co-chairman of the group that produced the new report. "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".

- High blood pressure rates could almost triple among men age 20 to 44 – up to 30 percent from 11 percent.

Most of those added people will be urged to change their diets, exercise more and make other lifestyle changes, rather than take medication.

"The fact is lower is better", Frieden said, "Even what we considered mild hypertension before is a deadly disease".

Regarding the move to a lower threshold for hypertension, Whelton pointed to the dangers of blood pressure levels between 130-139/80-89 mm Hg. The four main classes of drugs for blood pressure have generic versions and can be as cheap as a few dollars a month.

"You've already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure", he said.


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