High blood pressure should be treated at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90 – according to the first comprehensive new high blood pressure guidelines in more than a decade. The guidelines have been released by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) for the detection, prevention, management, and treatment of high blood pressure.
The guidelines were presented at the Association’s 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, the premier global cardiovascular science meeting for the exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.
Nearly Half of American Adults have High BP
Rather than 1 in 3 US adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the US adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension.
However, there will only be a small increase in the number of adults who will require anti-hypertensive medication, the authors said. These guidelines, the first update to offer comprehensive guidance to doctors on managing adults with high blood pressure since 2003, are designed to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.
The new guidelines stress the importance of using proper techniques to measure blood pressure. Blood pressure levels should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions, according to medical experts.
High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. It is commonly known as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms, despite its role in significantly increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Dangers of BP Levels above 130/80
Paul K. Whelton, the lead author of the guidelines published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, noted the dangers of blood pressure levels between 130-139/80-89 mm Hg.
“You’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure,” Whelton said. “We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it. 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.”