New blood pressure range means half of Americans have hypertension

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The new AHA standards means almost half of Americans may now have high blood pressure.

Before the new guidelines were published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the threshold for what is considered high blood pressure was 140/90. Previously, one in three (32 per cent) had the condition, which is the second leading cause of preventable heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking. Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120 over 80. He says they will prevent disease by encouraging early treatment. There are no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called, "the silent killer".

Doctor Andrew Calvin of Mayo Clinic Health System says the new guidelines come with the commonality of high blood pressure today.

But the drugs have side effects and the new guidelines emphasize lifestyle changes including weight loss, diet and exercise as the first tool for combating hypertension. "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'".

He said a diagnosis of the new high blood pressure does not necessarily mean a person needs to take medication, but that "it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches".

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The blood pressure categories have changed under the new guidelines. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

It's safe to say most people would be overwhelmed with the new guidelines - 167 pages, citing 367 scientific publications, titled "2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults".

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

Gandhi recommends that people who are at risk of high blood pressure buy a quality blood pressure cuff that wraps around their arms and to become comfortable taking their own blood pressure readings from time to time and reporting them to their doctor.