New blood pressure guidelines look to help to find the early signs of hypertension which is the leading cause of heart disease and heart-related deaths in the United States.
The new guidelines change the threshold for what is considered to be 'high' blood pressure. Doctor Haitham Ahmed of the Cleveland Clinic says that for all who have heart disease, their target range is now lower than before and the same goes for those whose numbers are on the border.
Doctor Ahmed says that with the new guidelines, more than 100 million Americans will be considered as having high blood pressure. In the past, people with heart disease or who were at high risk for heart disease were classified as having high blood pressure once their levels reached 41 over 90.
Under the new guidelines, a blood pressure of 130 over 80 would be considered high for this group of individuals. Doctor Ahmed says that the people who will see the most impact from the updated guidelines are those whose blood pressure has been on the border between high and normal.
Research has shown that intervening at an earlier stage can reduce a person's risk of heart attack or stroke. Doctor Ahmed stated that the first step towards lowering blood pressure for most people involves lifestyle modifications, such as reducing sodium intake, losing weight, exercising more, reducing alcohol intake and eating a diet that is high in fiber and lower in fat.
Doctor Ahmed says that it is important that everyone visit a doctor regularly to know their personal risk and develop a plan for treatment when necessary. He further stated that for patients who are elderly, or who already have kidney disease, it is important to lower their blood pressure, but it can't be done overnight.
Patients who have had high blood pressure for many years that drop too quickly can put themselves at an increased risk for kidney injury, hypotension, falls or passing out.
Complete results of the research and guidelines are available on the journal of the American College of Cardiology.