Half of USA adults have high blood pressure in new rules

15 November, 2017, 00:26 | Author: Hope Soto
  • A patient getting blood pressure checked

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology just lowered the threshold for high blood pressure to 130/80 millimeters of mercury, and now 46% of Americans - up from 32% - fall in the danger zone.

The global hypertension drug market is already expected to climb to $32 billion by the end of 2020, according to analysts at Technavio, but now with the new guidelines for blood pressure set in place by the American Heart Association earlier this week, that market could rise even more as additional Americans may need medication. In doing so, the first group saw a one-third reduction in heart attack, heart failure and stroke, and a one-fourth reduced risk of death.

Normal blood pressure is still below 120/80, but now 120-129/80 is considered an "elevated blood pressure", and 130-139/80-89 is "stage 1 hypertension".

Millions more Americans will be classified as having high blood pressure, but this doesn't necessarily mean more people will be put on medication. Five years later, when that patient has a reading of 140 over 90 and is overweight, he or she is at significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease so they are immediately placed on blood pressure medicine and counseled on exercise and healthy eating.

In terms of lives, the change translates to a 14% increases in the number of adults classified with high blood pressure.

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Damage to blood vessels is already beginning once blood pressure reaches 130/80, said the guidelines, which were based in part on a major U.S. government-funded study of over 9,000 people nationwide.

"I think this will encourage both patients to adhere to recommendations but also clinicians to be more vigorous in their attempts to prescribe lifestyle changes", said Dr. Pamela Morris, chair of the ACC's committee on prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The proper technique must be used to measure blood pressure, and levels "should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions", according to the new guidelines.

The new guidelines eliminate the prehypertension category. "Rather, it brings to light the need to make lifestyle changes".

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