The nation’s leading heart experts on has issued new guidelines for high blood pressure. This could mean millions more Americans may already have met the criteria for the condition, and will need to take more care in managing their blood pressure one of the leading cause of death in the nation.
The new guidelines result from joint research conducted by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. The result is that high blood pressure is now defined with a reading of 130/80 on a blood pressure meter, compared to the former criterium of 140/90. The top number (systolic) represents the pressure on blood vessels when the heart contracts, and the second (diastolic) refers to the pressure as the heart relaxes between beats. The higher the top figure is the higher the risk for an individual to have a heart attack or a stroke.
According to the medical experts, 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.
“Those numbers are scary,” said Dr. Robert M. Carey, professor of medicine at the University of Virginia and co-chair of the committee that wrote the new guidelines.
The number of adults with high blood pressure, or hypertension, will rise to 103 million from 72 million under the previous standard. others may have to take more drugs or increase the dosages.
High blood pressure is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of heart attacks and strokes, and heart disease remains the leading killer of Americans.
People can lower their blood pressure by exercising more and eating a healthier diet, one low on salt/sodium or with drug therapy.
The new criteria for high blood pressure, the first official diagnostic revision since 2003, result from growing evidence that blood pressure far lower than had been considered normal greatly reduces the chances of heart attack and stroke, as well as the overall risk of death.
Nearly half of all American adults, and nearly 80 percent of those aged 65 and older, will find they will need to take steps to reduce their blood pressure.
Even under the relatively more lenient standard that had prevailed for years, close to half of patients did not manage to get their blood pressure down to normal.
According to the new guidelines, anyone with at least a 10 percent risk of a heart attack or stroke in the next decade should aim for blood pressure below 130/80.
But simply being age 65 or older brings a 10 percent risk of cardiovascular trouble, and so effectively everyone over that age will have to shoot for the new target.
Younger patients with this level of risk include those with conditions like heart disease, kidney disease or diabetes. The new standard will apply to them, as well.
People whose risk of heart attack or stroke is less than 10 percent will be told to aim for blood pressure below 140/90, a more lenient standard, and to take medications if necessary to do so.
Fortunately, nearly all the drugs used to treat high blood pressure are generic sold at relatively low prices, and have little or no side effects.
For more on managing high blood pressure, click the link: How to manage your pressure and health