Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Medical | By Rita Mcdonald

Millions more of Americans may now have high blood pressure

Millions more of Americans may now have high blood pressure

"The new definition results in only a small increase in the percentage of USA adults for whom antihypertensive medication is recommended in conjunction with lifestyle modification", according to the guidelines.

High blood pressure was redefined Monday by the American Heart Association, which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80, not the previous limit of 140/90.

Dr. Fabregas says that even if your first blood pressure reading comes back high, you might not be at risk for hypertension.

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

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

The new guidelines indicate that 46 percent of American adults suffer from hypertension a huge increase from the 32 percent measured by the old standards.

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Dr. Calvin says that can be addressed with lifestyle changes like eating more fruits and veggies, increasing exercise, and minimizing alcohol consumption. "Saying, 'Hey maybe you should get a blood pressure cuff at home and start monitoring that blood pressure and bring in those numbers for us to review together at your next visit'".

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. The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke. Now 103 million people will have high blood pressure.

Under the new guidelines normal blood pressure will be considered anything less than 120 over 80.

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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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