Millions now hypertensive under new U.S. guidelines

Nearly half of Americans are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines from the American Heart Association and several other health organizations.


NSFW    DALLAS — U.S. health experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure for the first time in 14 years, classifying 30 million more Americans as hypertensive.

The Washington Post reports that high blood pressure was once defined as a systolic reading of 140 and a diastolic reading of 90, but has recently been lowered to 130 over 80 by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other health organizations.

Blood pressure refers to the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels. When too high, it can damage arterial tissues and increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney problems.

Under the old guidelines, 32% of U.S. adults had high blood pressure. With the new lowered threshold, 46% or 103 million Americans are now considered hypertensive.

Normal levels are pegged at less than 120 over 80. Those with readings between 120 to 129 over less than 80 are considered to have elevated blood pressure, and recommended lifestyle changes. Medication is given to patients with Stage 1 hypertension who are at risk, while those at Stage 2 are given 2 different classes of medicine.

Since hypertension is a silent killer, experts want to help people get the condition under control earlier, and place a strong emphasis on making healthier life choices.
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