Blood pressure guidelines tougher, more people to be diagnosed

Don’t just get your BP taken make sure it’s taken the right way

High blood pressure was redefined on Monday by the American Heart Association (AHA), which said the disease should be treated sooner, when it reaches 130/80mm Hg, and not the previous limit of 140/90.

The global hypertension drug market is already expected to climb to $32 billion by the end of 2020, according to analysts at Technavio, but now with the new guidelines for blood pressure set in place by the American Heart Association earlier this week, that market could rise even more as additional Americans may need medication.

High blood pressure is the No. 2 cause of preventable heart disease and stroke behind smoking, Gandhi said. Normal is defined as 120/80 or less.

But the drugs have side effects and the new guidelines emphasize lifestyle changes including weight loss, diet and exercise as the first tool for combating hypertension.

"I think the goal of the new guidelines is to get blood pressure on the radar for those at-risk patients, to make the diagnosis, to get them to do some lifestyle changes".

The findings mean that an additional 14% of USA adults, or about 30 million people, will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure, bringing the total number to 100 million people living with the condition in the U.S.

Identifying socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress as risk factors for high blood pressure that should be considered in a patient's plan of care. "The days are pretty much over when doctors could walk into the office and tell people what to do, write a prescription and expect them to comply", he said on Twitter Tuesday.

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. Before, both these ranges were classified as "prehypertension", and 140-159/90-99 was "stage 1 hypertension". But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times.

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