Half of United States adults now have high blood pressure

Half of United States adults now have high blood pressure

Experts have just redefined what counts as high blood pressure, which means the number of people with it is about to rise by tens of millions in the U.S. alone - and all those people are advised to start thinking about lifestyle changes.

This is the first change in blood pressure standards since 2003.

The American Heart Association's recent decision - to lower the baseline blood pressure parameters and redefine high blood pressure as a reading of 130/80, down from 140/90 - has been welcomed by various city-based cardiologists and surgeons.

"We want to be straight with people - if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it", says the lead author of the new guidelines, physician Paul K. Whelton.

Despite being helpful, lowering blood pressure with medication can cause side effects.

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Dr. Babbit recommends that people should get their blood pressure checked at least once a year.

While systolic reading refers to the pressure when the heart contracts and sends blood through the arteries, diastolic pressure is measured when the heart relaxes between beats. University of Nebraska Medical Center Associate Professor of Internal Medicine Dr. Rae Witt says those numbers have been lowered.

"When that pressure is high, it can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack because of the pressure in the blood pressure in the blood vessels over time", said Babbit.

This new ceiling for normal blood pressure also means that the category of "prehypertension" is eliminated. The American Heart Association says this will means about 14% more people will be diagnosed with hypertension, but note that only a fractional increase in those who will be prescribed medication.


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