New Guidelines Mean Millions More Americans Need to Lower Blood Pressure

A patient getting blood pressure checked

The new standard means that almost half (46 percent) of the US population will be defined as having high blood pressure.

Millions of Americans are being told to look at their numbers after the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations gave a major overhaul to blood pressure guidelines.

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

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.

The new guidelines classify high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90.

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

The changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California.

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"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.

"If you take it right as the patient walks in, it's usually higher, because he has sort of a fight or flight response so he has 10 points more but then they relax and the pressure is normal", Dr. Fabregas said.

Though more people will need treatment, Jarvis says most of those newly defined as having high blood pressure will not need medication.

The new guideline lowers that to 130 over 80.

High blood pressure can mean serious problems with your heart.

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.

However, the AHA advises "stage one" patients with blood pressure between 130/80 and 140/90 to lose weight, exercise and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains before trying medication.

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