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American Heart/Stroke Association announces new blood pressure guidelines

14 November 2017, 01:22 | Winifred Adams

Don’t just get your BP taken make sure it’s taken the right way

Don’t just get your BP taken make sure it’s taken the right way

Roughly half of the United States' population will meet the criteria for hypertension as the American Heart Association released new guidelines for diagnosing and treating high blood pressure Monday (Nov. 11). A person's level should be the average of several readings, including those done outside of the doctor's office.

"In young healthy people with flexible blood vessels, elastic and compliant, the numbers tend to be low or normal", said Dr Mark Lampert, A NorthShore University Healthsystem Cardiologist.

Thomas Frieden, the former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who now runs a global health initiative that focuses on heart disease and stroke, said that the "big news about this guideline is it should end forever any debate about whether people should be treated with medicines once they hit 140/90".

And for those considered high, they are urged to begin interventions like reducing salt intake and possibly adding medication to reduce blood pressure and in turn lower the risk for heart attack, stroke and heart failure.

People with an upper level of 120-129 have "elevated blood pressure". Medication will be recommended for patients with previous cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, or significant cardiovascular risk factors determined by factors such as age, blood tests and having other medical conditions that increase risk of heart attack.

"Rather than one in three USA adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in almost half of the US adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension", the groups said in a joint statement.

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Those with a top reading over 130 and a bottom reading above 80 have "high blood pressure", which is also known as "stage 1 hypertension". Prescriptions for blood pressure drugs are not expected to leap under the guidelines, experts said. These guidelines, the first update to offer comprehensive guidance to doctors on managing adults with high blood pressure since 2003, are created to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier. High blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45 and double among women under 45, according to the guidelines report. They recommend that those with hypertension use approved blood pressure monitors at home. "Normal hasn't changed. We are still saying that it is great and it is normal to have a systolic blood pressure reading below 120 and a diastolic reading under 80", Whelton said.

In developing the guidelines, authors also analyzed more than 900 research studies, excluding those that did not meet strict research requirements.

"People with white-coat hypertension do not seem to have the same elevation in risk as someone with true sustained high blood pressure", Whelton said.

Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of the heart muscle.

Stage 2: Systolic of 140 or higher.

And because of that, both the American Heart and Stroke Association have scrapped the classification of pre-hypertension. Only those who have other factors that put them at risk of heart disease should be given medication, said Robert Carey, professor of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.



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