New blood pressure guidelines for

New blood pressure guidelines for "silent, deadly health crisis"

Ronald Pratt
November 15, 2017

That's according to new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, which state that 130/80 mm Hg or higher now constitutes high blood pressure, or hypertension.

At the new cutoff, around 46 percent, or more than 103 million, of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure, compared with an estimated 72 million under the previous guidelines in place since 2003.

Only prescribing medication for Stage I hypertension if a patient has already had a cardiovascular event, is at high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk. Normal is defined as 120/80 or less.

"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.

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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Concerns about those side effects, as well as the fact that the close monitoring seen in a clinical trial is hard to replicate, led the AHA, ACC and other groups to select the 130 systolic blood pressure target.

"High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no signs or symptoms to go with it", says Dr. Calvin.

The category of prehypertension, referring to those with systolic pressure of 120-139, no longer exists. Then a person's reading becomes the average of those numbers and reduces the risk of "white coat hypertension" - blood pressure readings that are improperly elevated because a patient in a doctor's office is nervous. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

Dr Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY, said he agrees with the change "because it allows for early lifestyle changes to be addressed". "Rather, it brings to light the need to make lifestyle changes".