Nov 14, 2017 08:25 AM EST By Dianne Depra

Nearly Half Of American Adults Have High Blood Pressure According To New AHA Guidelines

High blood pressure is a major health concern and more American adults will be diagnosed with it as the American Heart Association released new blood pressure guidelines. This is the first time new guidelines were introduced since 2003.

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The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines, putting patients with blood pressures at 130/80 mm Hg as having high blood pressure rather than 140/90 mm Hg, the previous measure.

Published in the journal Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and presented at the AHA's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference, the guidelines were developed to detect, prevent, manage, and treat high blood pressure. More specifically, the new guidelines are designed to aid in addressing the condition earlier, stressing the importance of utilizing proper techniques in measuring blood pressure.

Effects Of New Blood Pressure Guidelines

With the new measure, nearly half, or 46 percent, of adults in the United States will be tagged as having high blood pressure, jumping from 32 percent with the previous definition. However, this will result in just a slight increase in the number of American adults who will be requiring high blood pressure medication.

"It doesn't mean you need medication, but it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches," said lead author Paul K. Whelon, M.D., M.D., M.Sc.

Coming in after smoking, high blood pressure represents the second largest number of preventable deaths related to stroke and heart disease. It doesn't always have symptoms, so, it's commonly referred to as the "silent killer."

New Blood Pressure Categories

According to the new guidelines, blood pressures under 120/80 mm Hg are considered normal while those with 120-129/less than 80 mm Hg are categorized as elevated. Stage 1 pertains to 130-139/80-89 mm Hg while Stage 2 refers to at least 140/at least 90 mm Hg. Hypertensive crisis is identified by blood pressure measures over 180/over 120 mm Hg.

The prehypertension category has also been eliminated, which was identified as 120-139/ 80-89 mm Hg. Today, patients with those readings will be categorized as having either Elevated or Stage 1 hypertension.

Experts expect the new guidelines to affect younger people the most, with high blood pressure prevalence estimated to triple in men 45 years old and below and to double in women from the same age group.

The new guidelines were by the AHA and ACC alongside nine other organizations in the health profession. This involved a 21-person panel of health experts and scientists who went over more than 900 studies that have been published.

All the guidelines were then subjected to a careful process of review and approval. They succeed the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure which came out in 2003.

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