Medicine

High blood pressure re-defined, 130/80 now considered high

High blood pressure re-defined, 130/80 now considered high

The American Heart Association released a major update regarding new blood pressure guidelines and under the changes, more Americans are considered to have high blood pressure.

Under the guidelines, formulated by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double.

Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively low-priced generics.

For the 46 percent of Americans now with high blood pressure, the AHA recommends doctors prescribe medication to keep the hypertension under control and that the patients exercise more and eat a healthier diet.

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

"We want to be straight with people - if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it".

The normal limit for blood pressure is considered 120 for systolic, or how much pressure the blood places on the artery walls when the heart beats, and 80 for diastolic, which is measured between beats. Before, both these ranges were classified as "prehypertension", and 140-159/90-99 was "stage 1 hypertension".

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

High blood pressure has even associated dementia.

Gandhi described the new guidelines as "sound" and "a long time coming". But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

The AHA says the new guidelines are created to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

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.

Experts said the majority of Americans affected won't need medication but will need to make lifestyle changes.


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