Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

American Heart/Stroke Association announces new blood pressure guidelines

American Heart/Stroke Association announces new blood pressure guidelines

People with readings of 130 as the top number or 80 as the bottom one now are considered to have high blood pressure, according to the guideline released Monday by the American Heart Association.

Almost half of American adults are at risk for major health problems because of high blood pressure, according to a new scientific guideline that redefines the risky condition and provides tactics for doctors to detect, treat and prevent it.

A doctor speaks to a patient as a sphygmomanometer, or blood pressure meter, lies on his desk.

The systolic reading refers to the pressure when the heart contracts and sends blood through the arteries. But there will only be a small increase in the number of USA adults who will require medication, the authors of the guidelines said.

"You would think the people that have high blood pressure would be the people that are over weight, they smoke, they don't take care of them selves, don't eat well and certainly that's a possibility, but that doesn't have to be the case", said Dr. Gordon.

'The new guideline adopts a rigorous scientific approach, emphasizing the need for treatment and patient engagement'.

The new guidelines have dropped from 140/80 being considered hypertensive to 130/80 after several years of research and hundreds of studies on patients.

Previously, one in three (32 percent) had the condition, which is the second leading cause of heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking. 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.

The more stringent definition means the share of US adults with high blood pressure will rise from 32 percent to 46 percent. When the results were first presented in 2015, they shook many assumptions about blood pressure management. "Masked hypertension is more sinister and very important to recognize because these people seem to have a similar risk as those with sustained high blood pressure". The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45 according to the report.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. Eleven organizations collaborated on the project and reviewed more than 900 published studies. "It doesn't mean you need medication, but it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure".

"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.

Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.

And Stage 2 occurs at levels of 140 over 90.

And because of that, both the American Heart and Stroke Association have scrapped the classification of pre-hypertension.

SOURCES: Paul Whelton, M.D., M.Sc., professor, Global Public Health, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans; Joaquin Cigarroa, M.D., chief, cardiology, and clinical chief, Knight Cardiovascular Institute, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland; Bob Carey, M.D., dean emeritus, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville; Mary Walsh, M.D., medical director, Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation, St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana, Indianapolis; Nov. 13, 2017, presentation, American Heart Association annual meeting, Anaheim, Calif. This is called diastolic pressure.

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