Americans will be getting instructions on how to check their blood pressure every day to keep up with how they are doing. The four main classes of drugs for blood pressure have generic versions and can be as cheap as a few dollars a month.
"In young healthy people with flexible blood vessels, elastic and compliant, the numbers tend to be low or normal", said Dr Mark Lampert, A NorthShore University Healthsystem Cardiologist. But there will only be a small increase in the number of US adults who will require medication, the authors of the guidelines said. Writing down these readings at home can help tell the difference between people with truly abnormal blood pressure and those with "white-coat syndrome" - with high blood pressure only under stress like at the doctor's office.
Blood pressure of 120/80 or above is considered elevated; 130/80 to 139/89 is now considered Stage 1 hypertension and anything 140/90 or above will be considered stage 2 hypertension. The Association now generally recommends that patients with Stage 1 hypertension only be prescribed medication in the event of a heart attack or stroke, and they're also recommending that pharmaceutical companies combine multiple blood pressure drugs.
Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively low-priced generics.
He said 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".
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. "Masked hypertension is more sinister and very important to recognize because these people seem to have a similar risk as those with sustained high blood pressure".
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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.
High blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45 and double among women under 45, according to the American Heart Association. She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. Eleven organizations collaborated on the project and reviewed more than 900 published studies.
The new guidelines incorporate data from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), which was a large, randomized controlled trial created to assess the impact of more aggressive versus standard blood pressure goals on hard cardiovascular outcomes.
Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.
Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of the heart muscle.
The update by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association is based on a three-year review of nearly 1,000 studies. Only those who have other factors that put them at risk of heart disease should be given medication, said Robert Carey, professor of medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
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