High blood pressure a concern over 130 not 140
High blood pressure was redefined Monday by the American Heart Association, which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80 mm Hg, not the previous limit of 140/90.
Doctors now recognize that complications “can occur at those lower numbers,” said the first update to comprehensive US guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003.
A diagnosis of the new high blood pressure does not necessarily mean a person needs to take medication, but that “it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches,” said Paul Whelton, lead author of the guidelines.
Healthy lifestyle changes include losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, avoiding alcohol and salt, quitting smoking and avoiding stress.
The new standard means that nearly half of the US population will be defined as having high blood pressure.
Previously, one in three had the condition, which is the second leading cause of preventable heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking.
The normal limit for blood pressure is considered 120 for systolic, or how much pressure the blood places on the artery walls when the heart beats, and 80 for diastolic, which is measured between beats.
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 Whelton.
“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it.”