130/80 is new high for blood pres­sure

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —STORY BY AFP AND AP

ANA­HEIM, CAL­I­FOR­NIA— The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion says high blood pres­sure should be treated sooner “when it reaches 130/80mmHg, not the pre­vi­ous limit of 140/90.” Doc­tors now rec­og­nize that com­pli­ca­tions “can oc­cur at those lower num­bers.” Once a per­son reaches 130/80, they have al­ready dou­bled the risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar com­pli­ca­tions com­pared to those with nor­mal level of blood pres­sure.

ANA­HEIM, CAL­I­FOR­NIA— High blood pres­sure has been re­de­fined by the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, which said the dis­ease should be treated sooner—when it reaches 130/80 mm Hg, not the pre­vi­ous level 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 non­drug ap­proaches,” said Paul Whel­ton, lead au­thor of the guide­lines pub­lished on Mon­day in the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion journal, Hy­per­ten­sion, and the Journal of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy.

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.

Dou­ble the risk

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,” Whel­ton said.

The new stan­dard means that nearly half (46 per­cent) of the US pop­u­la­tion will be de­fined as hav­ing high blood pres­sure.

Pre­vi­ously, one in three (32 per­cent) had the con­di­tion, which is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of pre­ventable heart dis­ease and stroke, af­ter cig­a­rette smok­ing.

Poor di­ets, lack of ex­er­cise and other bad habits cause 90 per­cent of high blood pres­sure.

Cur­rently, only half of Amer­i­cans with high blood pres­sure have it un­der con­trol.

The up­per thresh­old for high blood pres­sure has been 140 since 1993, but a ma­jor study two years ago found heart risks were much lower in peo­ple who aimed for 120. Canada and Aus­tralia low­ered their cut­off to that; Europe is still at 140 but is due to re­vise its guide­lines next year.

The guide­lines, an­nounced on Mon­day at an Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence in Ana­heim, set new cat­e­gories and got rid of “pre­hy­per­ten­sion”: Nor­mal: Un­der 120 over 80 El­e­vated: Top num­ber 120-129 and bot­tom less than 80

Stage 1: Top of 130-139 or bot­tom of 80-89

Stage 2: Top at least 140 or bot­tom at least 90

How com­mon hy­per­ten­sion is will roughly triple in men un­der 45, to 30 per­cent, and dou­ble in women of that age, to 19 per­cent.

For peo­ple over 65, the guide­lines undo a con­tro­ver­sial tweak made three years ago to re­lax stan­dards and not start medicines un­less the top num­ber was over 150.

Now, ev­ery­one that old should be treated if the top num­ber is over 130 un­less they’re too frail or have con­di­tions that make it un­wise.

Cer­tain groups, such as those with di­a­betes, should be treated if their top num­ber is over 130, the guide­lines say.

For the rest, whether to start med­i­ca­tion will no longer be based just on the blood pres­sure num­bers.

The de­ci­sion also should consider the over­all risk of hav­ing a heart prob­lem or stroke in the next 10 years, in­clud­ing fac­tors such as age, gen­der and choles­terol, us­ing a sim­ple for­mula to es­ti­mate those odds.

Those with­out a high risk will be ad­vised to im­prove their life­styles, lose weight, eat healthy, ex­er­cise more, limit al­co­hol, and avoid smok­ing.

The guide­lines warn about some pop­u­lar ap­proaches, though. There’s not enough proof that con­sum­ing gar­lic, dark choco­late, tea or cof­fee helps, or that yoga, med­i­ta­tion or other be­hav­ior ther­a­pies lower blood pres­sure in the long term.

—REUTERS

RE­DE­FINED The new stan­dard for high blood pres­sure means a yel­low light to lower it to pre­vent heart dis­ease or stroke.

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