New Blood Pressure Guidelines a Wakeup Call for Many
For several years Preventure has been reaching out to end users with a word of caution: “One in three Americans has high blood pressure…yet, many of these people are unaware that they are at risk.”
As of November, make that about one in two Americans.
The dramatic increase in people with hypertension is not the result of some new “high-sodium” fad diet that has taken the nation by storm. The actual number of people at risk has not changed.
What has changed is the hypertension guidelines accepted by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other health groups. The new guidelines, contained in a report issued on Nov. 13, redefine high blood pressure as starting at 130/80, down from the previous hypertension threshold of 140/90.
As a result, an estimated additional 100 million Americans now fall into the hypertension category.
The new guidelines establish “Stage 1 hypertension” at 130-139 over 80-89, and “Stage 2 hypertension,” starting at 140/90. This raises the number of Americans with hypertension from about one in three to 46% – nearly half. Included are twice as many women under 45, and three times as many men under 45.
Preventure has begun efforts to update its programming and services to reflect the new guidelines.
Why the change? It seems that people with blood pressure readings previously considered “normal” or “pre-hypertensive” actually were at considerable risk for heart disease, death and disability, said Robert M. Carey, co-chairman of the group that authored the report. “The risk hasn’t changed. What’s changed is our recognition of the risk,” Carey told the Washington Post.
The good news is that health officials believe few people who fall into the new Stage 1 hypertensive category will need medication to manage their blood pressure. Rather, they are hoping the early wake-up call will encourage more people to address their risks sooner, by losing weight, eating healthier foods, getting more exercise and managing their stress. Consuming less alcohol and sodium also will help.
High blood pressure is the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. after cigarette smoking. Hypertension leads to cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and stroke, kidney disease and other serious health conditions.