New rules say 46 percent of Americans have hypertension

Posted November 15, 2017

Tighter blood pressure guidelines from USA heart organizations mean millions more people need to make lifestyle changes, or start taking medication, in order to avoid cardiovascular problems.

Experts from the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association (AHA) and nine other health professional organizations released new guidelines Monday for treating high blood pressure earlier with lifestyle changes or, in some patients, medication.

"I think people are going to be alarmed to wake up this morning to find out that they have hypertension, when they didn't have hypertension yesterday", says Dr. James Jarvis, interim vice president and chief medical officer at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

Dr. Shearer says people are usually diagnosed with high blood pressure in their 50's and 60's when arteries get stiffer but he says people as young as teens should get their blood pressure checked.

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 changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California.

Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively affordable generics.

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Readings even below those numbers - previously called "pre-hypertension" or "high-normal blood pressure" - signify serious risks too.

Kenneth Jamerson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and hypertension specialist at the University of MI was one of almost two dozen medical experts who wrote the new guidelines.

Dr. Calvin says that can be addressed with lifestyle changes like eating more fruits and veggies, increasing exercise, and minimizing alcohol consumption.

"You've already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure", said Paul K. Whelton, lead author of 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.

"Elevated blood pressure is not our friend".