Doctors lower the bar on high blood pressure
Thirty million Americans are getting some bad health news: They have high blood pressure and need to do something about it, according to new, more aggressive hypertension treatment guidelines released by heart doctors Monday.
The doctors and other experts, from the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other groups, are moving the goal line for blood pressure control, meaning 46% of adults in the USA— about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.
That’s up from 32%, or 72 million under the old guidelines.
Most of those people will be urged to change their diets, exercise more and make other lifestyle changes rather than take medication. The guidelines also call on patients already in treatment to work toward the lower goal — a reading of no more than 130/80, down from the old standard, 140/90.
It’s not clear how widely or rapidly front-line doctors will adopt the changes, but if and when they do, here’s what patients should expect:
❚ If your blood pressure is between 130/80 and 140/90, your doctor will say you have “stage one” hypertension and will suggest losing lifestyle changes such as losing weight.
❚ If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors, you will be asked to try medication, along with lifestyle changes.
❚ If your blood pressure is above 140/ 90, your doctor will recommend you make lifestyle changes and take two kinds of blood pressure medications.
❚ Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. Patients over 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.