Health Care

Heart Association lowers definition of high blood pressure

Heart Association lowers definition of high blood pressureā€

The findings mean that an additional 14% of US adults, or about 30 million people, will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure, bringing the total number to 100 million people living with the condition in the U.S.

In terms of lives, the change translates to a 14% increases in the number of adults classified with high blood pressure.

"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.

"High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement", said the guidelines.

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This comes after the American Heart Association redefined guidelines for the first time in almost a decade.

Adults with blood pressure of 130/80 "already have double the risk of heart attack compared to someone in the normal range", said Dr. Paul Whelton, professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans and lead author of the new guidelines.

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death for Americans, according to the CDC.

Identifying socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress as risk factors for high blood pressure that should be considered in a patient's plan of care.

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"The prevalence of hypertension among USA adults is substantially higher when the definition in the present guideline is used versus the [older] definition (46% versus 32%)", the authors write.

Damage to blood vessels is already beginning once blood pressure reaches 130/80, said the guidelines, which were based in part on a major United States government-funded study of over 9,000 people nationwide.

The guidelines recommend lifestyle changes, eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, rich in potassium - bananas, potatoes, avocados, leafy green vegetables - weight loss, exercise, and cutting out alcohol and tobacco. It measures the amount of pressure going through your heart when it's pumping.

"For the first time millions of American may be told that they have elevated blood pressure, whereas previously they've been told that their blood pressure is O.K.", says Dr. Andrew Calvin with the Cardiac Center at Mayo Clinic Health System.

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