"I think the goal of the new guidelines is to get blood pressure on the radar for those at-risk patients, to make the diagnosis, to get them to do some lifestyle changes".
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Rather than 1 in 3 US adults having high blood pressure with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in almost half of the USA adult population having the condition.
Doctors now recognise that complications "can occur at those lower numbers", said the first update to comprehensive U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003. Normal blood pressure is still considered under 120 mmHG for the systolic (top) number and 90 mmHG for the diastolic (bottom) number.
The guidelines recommend lifestyle changes, eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, rich in potassium - bananas, potatoes, avocados, leafy green vegetables - weight loss, exercise, and cutting out alcohol and tobacco.
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"The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45", according to the report. Before, both these ranges were classified as "prehypertension", and 140-159/90-99 was "stage 1 hypertension".
Concerns about those side effects, as well as the fact that the close monitoring seen in a clinical trial is hard to replicate, led the AHA, ACC and other groups to select the 130 systolic blood pressure target.
WECT's Ben Smart is interviewing two cardiologists today to understand what these new heart health guidelines mean for you. "And for those patients that are at highest risk, those that have had a cardiovascular event in the past, stroke or heart attack, or have diabetes, those are the kind of people we're going to be adding medication for it to bring their blood pressures down", Farrell said.
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The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times.