Millions more of Americans may now have high blood pressure

Posted November 15, 2017

Tighter blood pressure guidelines from USA heart organizations mean millions more people need to make lifestyle changes, or start taking medication, in order to avoid cardiovascular problems.

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.

High blood pressure is the No. 2 cause of preventable heart disease and stroke behind smoking, Gandhi said.

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Almost half of the U.S adult population is now considered to have high blood pressure. He says they will prevent disease by encouraging early treatment.

Cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the impact of the new guidelines. "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".

High blood pressure is no longer 140/90.

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The changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California.

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. There are no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called, "the silent killer". "Saying, 'Hey maybe you should get a blood pressure cuff at home and start monitoring that blood pressure and bring in those numbers for us to review together at your next visit'".

The report said: "People with those readings now will be categorised as having either elevated (120-129 and less than 80) or stage 1 hypertension (130-139 or 80-89)". The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke.

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Once a person reaches 130/80, "you've already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure", said Dr Whelton. It measures the amount of pressure going through your heart when it's pumping.