Health Care

Is your blood pressure too high?

Is your blood pressure too high?

Millions of Americans are being told to look at their numbers after the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations gave a major overhaul to blood pressure guidelines.

The new guidelines define high blood pressure, or hypertension, as 130/80 and higher which is down from the old definition of 140/90 and higher.

Gandhi recommends that people who are at risk of high blood pressure buy a quality blood pressure cuff that wraps around their arms and to become comfortable taking their own blood pressure readings from time to time and reporting them to their doctor.

Almost half of the U.S adult population is now considered to have high blood pressure.

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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.

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".

High blood pressure is caused when the force of blood pushing against vessel walls is too high. "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.

The AHA hopes that the new guidelines won't mean more people will use medication, so much as the hope more people will make the lifestyle changes necessary to address hypertension.

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More guidance for how people should manage their blood pressure, focusing on lifestyle improvements.

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 category of prehypertension, referring to those with systolic pressure of 120-139, no longer exists.

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