Medicine

The Classification of 'High Blood Pressure' Just Changed

The Classification of 'High Blood Pressure' Just Changed

"Hypertension is often framed as a clinical issue, but public health plays a crucial role in raising hypertension awareness, encouraging healthy lifestyle changes, and supporting people to monitor their blood pressure in the community setting", says Michael Fraser, ASTHO's executive director.

"Blood pressure is fairly asymptomatic".

"It doesn't mean you need medication, but it's a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches".

The new guidelines create categories including "elevated", "Stage 1 and 2 hypertension" and "hypertensive crisis", for blood pressure readings.

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The change results in an additional 14 percent of US adults with high pressure, but doctors say only 2 percent of these newly added people need medication.

Experts say they want people to understand more about the complications that can occur at those lower numbers, and have also stressed the need for check-ups by qualified health professionals to get accurate readings. "In 2003, the JNC 7 or the seventh report of the Joint National Committee's report on prevention, detection, evaluation and treatment of high blood pressure had shown that starting from 110/75, every addition of blood pressure by 20 mm systolic and 10 mm diastolic would double the risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure", said Chandorkar. In the USA, it's second only to smoking as a preventable cause of heart attacks.

Dr. Witt says, "It used to be once your blood pressure hit 140/90, that is when we would start talking about more intensive lifestyle changes and possibly medicines".

Authors of the new guidelines say this change is meant to prevent people from waiting until their blood pressure is high to begin making lifestyle changes, which could reduce their risk of heart attack. About 85 million Americans have high blood pressure but only have have the condition under control.


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