Under new guidelines, nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure

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New guidelines issued by USA medical societies have expanded the definition of hypertension for the first time in 14 years, classifying 30 million more Americans as having high blood pressure.

In the first update to USA guidelines on blood pressure in 14 years, a writing committee changed the definition of high blood pressure from 140/90 millimeters of mercury or higher to 130/80 or higher.

Americans will be getting instructions on how to check their blood pressure every day to keep up with how they are doing. The bottom number refers to your blood pressure when your heart muscle is between beats.

"There is high-quality evidence demonstrating that team-based care models, particularly with pharmacists and nurses, improves hypertension treatment and control", said Eric MacLaughlin, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, BCPS, who coauthored the new guidelines as APhA's representative member of the Guideline Writing Committee.

Those with Stage 2 high blood pressure are being advised under the guidelines to start medication-likely two medications-while making healthy lifestyle changes.

'The new guideline adopts a rigorous scientific approach, emphasizing the need for treatment and patient engagement'.

A blood pressure of less than 120/80 still will be considered normal, but levels at or above that, to 129, will be called “elevated.”.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, killing 800,000 Americans and accounting for 670,000 heart attacks annually. In addition to tightening the definition of high blood pressure, the new report does away with the old category of "pre-hypertension", which was defined as a top (systolic) reading of 120 to 139 or a bottom (diastolic) number between 80 and 89.

Concerns about those side effects, as well as the fact that the close monitoring seen in a clinical trial is hard to replicate, led the AHA, ACC and other groups to select the 130 systolic blood pressure target.

Because the numbers are so important, experts are also issuing rules for measuring blood pressure. These guidelines, the first update to offer comprehensive guidance to doctors on managing adults with high blood pressure since 2003, are created to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier. 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. She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. Previously, a blood pressure level of 140/90 was the baseline for being diagnosed with hypertension. Bob Carey, vice-chair of the guidelines committee and professor of medicine at the University of Virginia Health System School of Medicine.

The new classifications and recommendations are specific in how they determine who is at risk and what they should do about it, Jamerson said. Eleven organizations collaborated on the project and reviewed more than 900 published studies.

To assess your heart disease risk, visit the American College of Cardiology. 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.

Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of the heart muscle.

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