New high blood pressure guidelines

A patient getting blood pressure checked

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.

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. Normal blood pressure is still considered under 120 mmHG for the systolic (top) number and 90 mmHG for the diastolic (bottom) number.

The AHA says the new guidelines are created to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

He said a diagnosis of the new high blood pressure does not necessarily mean a person needs to take medication, but that "it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches".

The guidelines were presented at the heart association's annual Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, Calif.

For the first time since 2003, the American Heart Association has redefined high blood pressure.

Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at Yale University, said the new definition will radically change how primary care doctors interact with their patients.


With the new guidelines, that patient will be "read the riot act" about exercise and healthy eating but the goal will be for them to bring their blood pressure down with those lifestyle changes before prescribing medications, Gandhi said.

Today, millions of Americans who didn't have high blood pressure before have it now.

Under the new guidelines published Monday, 46 percent of Americans now have hypertension compared to 32 percent under the former definition.

The AHA hopes that the new guidelines won't mean more people will use medication, so much as the hope more people will make the lifestyle changes necessary to address hypertension.

High blood pressure can mean serious problems with your heart. The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke.

"Elevated blood pressure is not our friend". It measures the amount of pressure going through your heart when it's pumping.

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