High blood pres­sure is re­de­fined as 130

NOT 140

The Freeman - - WORLD -

LOS AN­GE­LES — High blood pres­sure was re­de­fined yes­ter­day 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 pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion journal, Hy­per­ten­sion, and the Journal of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy.

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 (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.

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."

Once con­sid­ered mainly a dis­or­der among peo­ple 50 and older, the new guide­lines are ex­pected to lead to a surge of peo­ple in their 40s with high blood pres­sure.

"The preva­lence of high blood pres­sure is ex­pected to triple among men un­der age 45, and dou­ble among women un­der 45," ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Dam­age to the blood ves­sels is al­ready be­gin­ning once blood pres­sure reaches 130/80, said the guide­lines, which were based in part on a ma­jor US-gov­ern­ment funded study of more than 9,000 peo­ple na­tion­wide.

The cat­e­gory of pre­hy­per­ten­sion, which used to re­fer to peo­ple with sys­tolic pres­sure of 120-139, no longer ex­ists, ac­cord­ing to the new guide­lines.

"Peo­ple with those read­ings now will be cat­e­go­rized as hav­ing ei­ther El­e­vated (120-129 and less than 80) or Stage I hy­per­ten­sion (130-139 or 80-89)."

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