Half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure under new guidelines

A patient getting blood pressure checked

A patient getting blood pressure checked

High blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication - at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 - according to the first comprehensive new high blood pressure guidelines in more than a decade.

This chart shows the changes made to the high blood pressure guidelines.

The new guidelines incorporate data from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), which was a large, randomized controlled trial created to assess the impact of more aggressive versus standard blood pressure goals on hard cardiovascular outcomes.

That means things like shedding the pounds, giving up fast food, hitting the treadmill and watching your salt intake, to name a few. "It's a nice combination of understanding accurately average blood pressure and also understanding underlying risk".

"It leads to Renal Disease, and if you compound that with diabetes and co-morbidities that patients may have, we find that it can be very risky", he said.

The normal limit for blood pressure is considered 120/80.

The change is expected to have the biggest effect on men and women under the age of 45.

"High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement", said the guidelines.

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The more stringent definition means the share of USA adults with high blood pressure will rise from 32 percent to 46 percent. Bob Carey. He is vice chair of the 2017 Hypertension Practice Guidelines and dean emeritus of the University of Virginia School of Medicine. "So the earlier, the better", said Dr. Shearer. Prescriptions for blood pressure drugs are not expected to leap under the guidelines, experts said. People with those readings now will be categorized as having either Elevated (120-129 and less than 80) or Stage I hypertension (130-139 or 80-89).

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. "This amounts to 4.2 million people, based on the USA population".

"There is high-quality evidence demonstrating that team-based care models, particularly with pharmacists and nurses, improves hypertension treatment and control", said Eric MacLaughlin, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, BCPS, who coauthored the new guidelines as APhA's representative member of the Guideline Writing Committee.

Stage 2: The top number is at least 140, or the bottom number is at least 90.

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. She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

“These new guidelines give patients a voice because it gives them an opportunity to ask healthcare providers, ‘Whats my risk?” Jamerson said. They were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies.

Normal is less than 120 over 80. It measures the amount of pressure going through your heart when it's pumping.

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