High blood pressure is redefined as 130, not 140 - USA guidelines

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"Nine out of every 10 times you see high blood pressure, it's because the diet or the nutrition isn't as good as it could be, it's because we're not as physically active as we could be and should be, and perhaps it's because we're consuming too much alcohol", lead guidelines author Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, said in a video released by the American Heart Association (AHA).

According to a release from the AHA, patients with a blood pressure reading of 130/80 should now be considered to have hypertension, or abnormally high blood pressure. The four main classes of drugs for blood pressure have generic versions and can be as cheap as a few dollars a month. The top number is known as the systolic rate, measuring the pressure on your blood vessels when the heart beats.

Joaquin E. Cigarroa, MD, the head of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, said 70 percent of the people now recognized at increased risk can be treated with nutrition and lifestyle changes alone.

Data from SPRINT, which was also used in the new meta-analyses that were done for the guidelines, supports the lower blood pressure goal of 130/80 mm Hg for adults, including adults aged 65 years and older in institutionalized ambulatory, community-living settings, according to MacLaughlin.

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The study showed that bringing blood pressure below 120 versus the recommended 140 to 150 could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In addition to lowering the threshold for hypertension, the writing committee eliminated the category of prehypertension, which was defined as systolic blood pressure between 120-139 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure between 80-89 mm Hg. "Masked hypertension is more sinister and very important to recognize because these people seem to have a similar risk as those with sustained high blood pressure".

By lowering the number that is considered too high, doctors are expanding the characterization so now almost half of USA adults have hypertension.

The change is expected to triple the number of men under age 45 diagnosed with hypertension and double the number among women the same age. "With the formal recommendation to use a team-based approach for care of hypertension patients, there would be [an] expanded role and opportunities [for pharmacists]". She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the USA, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Ferdinand said blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors of heart disease.

The new guidelines are the product of a 21-member committee, following a three-year review of medical evidence that included more than 900 studies, Whelton said.

Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139. This is called diastolic pressure.

To assess your heart disease risk, visit the American College of Cardiology.

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“Yes, we will label more people hypertensive and give more medication, but we will save lives and money by preventing more strokes, cardiovascular events and kidney failure, ” said Kenneth Jamerson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and hypertension specialist at the University of Michigan Health System.

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