Millions of Americans went to bed Sunday night with “normal” blood pressure, and woke up under the umbrella of elevated blood pressure.
Not because their numbers changed, but because the guidelines did.
Emily Medalen explains what this may mean for you.
Good morning Tim and Alysia – this is the first time in 14 years that the blood pressure guidelines have changed.
Cardiovascular disease is being called the “silent, deadly health crisis.”
Eleven medical groups including the American Heart Association and the American College of cardiology have changed what used to be the “danger zone.”
Here’s how to know if you’re at risk.
New guidelines by the American Heart Association mean an estimated 31 million more people could be diagnosed with high blood pressure – nearly half of American adults.
“It’s going to have a big impact on healthcare and how we approach management of hypertension,” says Dr. Stephen Boateng, Invasive Cardiologist.
“Healthy” blood pressure remains the same… 120 over 80.
But, high blood pressure, or hypertension, has been reduced from 140 over 90, to 130 over 80.
“More cardiovascular disease is happening within this range, so the new, lower number is at a healthier state,” says Shauna Fladeland, Health Services Director.
“Lower stroke risk, lower heart attacks, and lower risk of death,” says Boateng.
They explained to me that these numbers could vary slightly per person.
“It’s not one size fits all. Each patient is an individual,” says Boateng.
Here’s the difference-
High risk patients are those who have have had a heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease.
These are the ones that may now be prescribed medications at lower blood pressure levels.
However, they say writing more prescriptions is not the goal.
“A lot of us physicians are gravitating towards trying to stay away from medication if we can,” says Boateng.
“Intervention should not just be medicinal, but also lifestyle,” says Fladeland.
These lifestyle changes include a healthy diet, daily exercise, weight loss, and quitting smoking.
Dr. Boateng stresses that lowering the bar should be viewed as a positive change.
“A lot of people are now going to wake up with high blood pressure. They should see this as an opportunity for a better lifestyle, not as a new label or disease that’s being thrown at them.”
He says if you were at risk for high blood pressure before these changes were made, you should see your physician to figure out what your next step should be.
With these changes, around 8 million more American adults will be prescribed blood pressure medication.