New rules say 46% of Americans have hypertension

Woman getting her blood pressure checked by a nurse

A blood pressure reading of 120 over 80 is still considered normal, with any systolic pressure reading up to 129 considered "elevated".

Under the old guidelines people were considered to have high blood pressure when they were given a reading of 140/90, but now, a person is considered to have high blood pressure with a reading of 130/80.

If your blood pressure is too high, it might not be because of the political climate this time.

Under the new guidelines, 46 percent of Americans now have hypertension compared to 32 percent under the former definition.

Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University, said the committee drafting the new guidelines had to best summarize a wide range of data about blood pressure into general guidelines that could be communicated to patients.

Higher blood pressure means that the heart needs to work harder to pump blood through the arteries, and this condition can cause strokes, kidney disease, and ultimately, heart failure.

If their risk of these conditions is less than 10 percent, then they should engage in lifestyle changes and be reassessed in 3-6 months.

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A panel of healthcare associations, including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, published new criteria this week redefining what classified as hypertension or high blood pressure. "People are recommended to monitor their blood pressure a week before your doctor's visit", says Barr.

People in stage 2 of high blood pressure (140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher) should adopt lifestyle changes, be treated with at least two medications, and receive monthly follow-ups until blood pressure is controlled, the guidelines state.

Previously, it was estimated that around 1 in 3 adults in the USA had high blood pressure.

Health experts say even though millions of people are now added into the high blood pressure classification, it doesn't mean they need to be put on medication.

Under the new guidelines, hypertension now affects 46 percent of the adult USA population, which translates to an increase in the use of blood pressure-lowering medications. "Part of the guidelines are identifying these risk factors, in addition to high blood pressure, and recommend treatment based on both your risk factors and your numerical blood pressure".

While the new guidelines will classify more US individuals as hypertensive, the AHA believe that this is not a bad thing.

Dr. Michael Barr from UnityPoint Health Trinity says the new guidelines will help prevent heart attacks and strokes in at risk patients.

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