US sets new 130 over 80 high blood pressure guideline

World | 14 Nov 2017 2:39 pm

New guidelines in the United States have lowered the threshold for high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, which for decades has been a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, drops to 130 over 80 in advice announced Monday by a dozen medical groups.

In Hong Kong, an adult is said to have hypertension if systolic blood pressure is persistently more than 140 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), or diastolic blood pressure is persistently over 90 mmHg, according the Center for Health Protection of the Department of Health. 

The new threshold set in the US will add 30 million Americans to those who have the condition, which now plagues nearly half of U.S. adults.

The change means an additional 14 percent of U.S. adults have the problem, but only an additional 2 percent will need medication right away; the rest should try healthier lifestyles, which get much stronger emphasis in the new advice. Poor diets, lack of exercise and other bad habits cause 90 percent of high blood pressure.

"I have no doubt there will be controversy. I’m sure there will be people saying ‘We have a hard enough time getting to 140,’” said Dr. Paul Whelton, a Tulane University physician who led the guidelines panel.

But the risk for heart disease, stroke and other problems drops as blood pressure improves, and the new advice "is more honest” about how many people have a problem, he said.

Currently, only half of Americans with high blood pressure have it under control.

The upper threshold for high blood pressure has been 140 since 1993, but a major study two years ago found heart risks were much lower in people who aimed for 120. Canada and Australia lowered their cutoff to that; Europe is still at 140 but is due to revise its guidance next year. -AP/The Standard

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