CT Doctor Goes Over New Blood Pressure Guidelines

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But now, it's stage 1 hypertension, and it means 46 percent of USA adults, many of them under the age of 45, have the disease.

The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology lowered the threshold for high blood pressure on Monday. "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. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg; elevated is systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80; Stage I is systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89; and Stage II is systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg. "So the earlier, the better", said Dr. Shearer.

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The guidelines were presented at the heart association's annual Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, Calif. There are no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called, "the silent killer".

But the drugs have side effects and the new guidelines emphasize lifestyle changes including weight loss, diet and exercise as the first tool for combating hypertension.

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Millions more Americans will be classified as having high blood pressure, but this doesn't necessarily mean more people will be put on medication.

Adults with blood pressure of 130/80 "already have double the risk of heart attack compared to someone in the normal range", said Dr. Paul Whelton, professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans and lead author of the new guidelines. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

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Almost half of all Americans have high blood pressure according to new guidelines, with cardiologists saying Tuesday it offers an opportunity to promote better health. Now 103 million people will have high blood pressure. Dr. Fabregas says when the high pressure ruins those pipes, or blood vessels, the heart has to work harder to pump blood.