Almost half of all adult Americans will be considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines issued Monday by the nation's top heart health organizations.
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.
Home blood pressure monitoring also will be emphasized to avoid "white-coat hypertension" - the tendency for some people to have higher blood pressure in a medical setting than they do in everyday life, the report said. A person's level should be the average of several readings, including those done outside of the doctor's office.
The systolic reading refers to the pressure when the heart contracts and sends blood through the arteries.
Still, the guideline in the works for about three years and based on hundreds of studies and clinical trials doesnt suggest a massive increase in the number of people who will need to take medication to control hypertension.
Robert M. Carey, M.D., vice chair of the guideline writing committee, said he expects some controversy over how the report treats older adults.
The rest of those at risk under the new guidelines will be urged to reduce their blood pressure through lifestyle changes - losing weight, eating healthful foods, cutting down on salt, increasing potassium-rich foods, exercising regularly and moderating their drinking, said Dr. The Association now generally recommends that patients with Stage 1 hypertension only be prescribed medication in the event of a heart attack or stroke, and they're also recommending that pharmaceutical companies combine multiple blood pressure drugs.
The new definition will increase the rate of Americans with high blood pressure from about 33 percent to nearly 50 percent, according to Keith Ferdinand, a cardiovascular doctor and guidelines reviewer for the report in which the findings were published. Prescriptions for blood pressure drugs are not expected to leap under the guidelines, experts said. When the results were first presented in 2015, they shook many assumptions about blood pressure management.
Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively affordable generics. 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. She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.
But patients in the 120 systolic blood pressure group had a higher rate of kidney injury or failure, as well as fainting. Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guidelines committee and professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.
Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.
And because of that, both the American Heart and Stroke Association have scrapped the classification of pre-hypertension.