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New blood pressure range means half of Americans have hypertension
15 November 2017, 12:26 | Todd Saunders
Dont just get your BP taken make sure its taken the right way
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.
Despite an increase in the amount of Americans with high blood pressure, the AHA hopes their new guidelines mean there will be only a small increase in the amount of patients requiring medication.
Experts expect the new guidelines will greatly impact younger people, with high blood pressure expected to triple among men under 45 and double among women under 45.
High blood pressure accounts for the second-largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths in the United States, second only to smoking.
The blood pressure categories have changed under the new guidelines.
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.
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But the drugs have side effects and the new guidelines emphasize lifestyle changes including weight loss, diet and exercise as the first tool for combating hypertension. Normal blood pressure is still considered under 120 mmHG for the systolic (top) number and 90 mmHG for the diastolic (bottom) number.
"The new definition results in only a small increase in the percentage of USA adults for whom antihypertensive medication is recommended in conjunction with lifestyle modification", according to the guidelines.
Identifying socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress as risk factors for high blood pressure that should be considered in a patient's plan of care.
High blood pressure has even associated dementia.
"I think this will encourage both patients to adhere to recommendations but also clinicians to be more vigorous in their attempts to prescribe lifestyle changes", said Dr. Pamela Morris, chair of the ACC's committee on prevention of cardiovascular disease.
"A lot more people are going to be diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), but the result will be fewer cardiovascular events down the road", Gandhi said. "Rather, it brings to light the need to make lifestyle changes".
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