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New Guidelines Diagnose Millions of ‘Healthy’ Americans With Hypertension

New Guidelines Diagnose Millions of ‘Healthy’ Americans With Hypertension


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On November 13, the upper limit for what’s deemed a healthy blood pressure read was lowered dramatically. The American Heart Association released new guidelines that mean tens of millions of Americans will now be instructed to take action to lower their blood pressure, where before they were deemed perfectly fine.

The new definition of a blood pressure considered “high” is any reading 130/80 millimeters of mercury or greater. Previously, the guidelines drew the line at 140/90.

With these new numbers, nearly half of all American adults will be told they have high blood pressure. For adults over 65, 80 percent will now be affected. The prevalence of hypertension among men under age 45 is expected to triple. Among women of the same age, the condition’s commonality will double.

“Those numbers are scary,” admitted Dr. Robert M. Carey, co-chair of the committee that wrote the new guidelines, to the The New York Times.

They’re especially scary because of the risk having a high blood pressure adds to your health. Hypertension is one of the primary causes of heart disease, which remains the number one killer of Americans. High blood pressure is also affiliated with heart attack, stroke, and other severe medical problems.

Efforts to reduce high blood pressure, however, are often ineffective. Even when the standards were lower, close to half of all patients with hypertension failed to lower their numbers back to normal levels, even after complete overhauls of their lifestyles. Dietary intervention is often attempted and failed, only to be followed up by a heavy dose of prescription drugs.

“Is it going to affect a lot of people, and is it going to be hard to meet those blood pressure goals?” posed Dr. Raymond Townsend, director of the hypertension program at Penn Medicine, to The New York Times. “The answer is a pretty significant yes.”

If you currently consider your blood pressure a healthy one, it’s time to take a trip to the doctor and check again. If your blood pressure has become an issue, definitely listen to the advice of your doctor for how to lower it. But a good place to start could be limiting these foods that are sending your blood pressure through the roof.


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”


New health guidelines say you might have high blood pressure

About half of U.S. adults are now considered to have high blood pressure under new guidelines announced Monday that set a lower threshold for the "silent killer," second only to smoking as a preventable cause of early death. (Nov. 13)

In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (Photo: Toby Talbot, AP)

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 U.S. adults — about 103 million — could now be diagnosed with hypertension.

That's up from 32%, or 72 million, under older guidelines.

Most of those added 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.

While significant, the change is not as big as some experts expected after a study in 2015 showed reaching even lower readings saved lives.

The new goal strikes “an appropriate balance between efficacy… and safety,” for those who will be asked to take more medications that can have side effects such as dizziness and falling, said Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guideline committee and a professor of medicine and dean emeritus at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

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 suggest losing weight, exercising, cutting salt and eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

• If you have stage one hypertension and some additional risk factors – such as a previous stroke, heart attack, diabetes or kidney disease – 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 change and take two kinds of blood-pressure lowering medications.

• Patients already taking medications might be put on higher doses or additional drugs to reach the new lower goal. But those over age 65 will be urged to talk to their doctors about how aggressively they want to be treated.

Here’s why blood pressure matters so much: as we age, it tends to rise and slowly damage blood vessels, increasing risks for heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and other health problems. By the time readings reach 130/80, risks have already doubled, said guideline chair Paul Whelton, a professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

“We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton said. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure."

The guidelines “have the potential of improving the health of millions,” and are supported by solid science, said David Goff, director of cardiovascular sciences at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines — a change from previous versions — but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets. That study also showed many people can reach lower targets, Goff said.

Still, only about half of Americans with hypertension under the old guidelines have it under control, said Whelton, the guideline chair. “I don’t underestimate the challenge of what we need to do.”



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