Here’s why millions of Americans suddenly have high blood pressure

Here’s why millions of Americans suddenly have high blood pressure

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have updated the definition of high blood pressure for the first time in 14 years.

The change means millions more U.S. adults now have high blood pressure.

Prior to this change, high blood pressure was defined as 140 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 90 and higher for the diastolic measurement. This measurement is usually seen as 140/90 mm Hg. High blood pressure is now defined as 130/80 mm Hg.

“Blood pressure indicates how much pressure or stress the blood in our bodies put on our arteries,” says Dr. Lloyd Klein, a cardiologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “A high blood pressure reading means one would be at risk of injuring or damaging the arterial walls.”

Under the new guidelines, the proportion of U.S. adults with high blood pressure will increase from 32 percent to 46 percent, though only a small proportion of the adults who meet the new definition will need medication.

While the new guidelines are not intended to set off a panic, the study authors say they hope to detect and address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

Blood pressure is an important reading to monitor because when left untreated or not monitored, the condition can lead to stroke, heart attack, kidney disease or heart failure, says Dr. Klein.

“The best way to stay within a healthy blood pressure range is weight management. In some cases, higher sodium or calcium intake can also trigger a higher blood pressure,” he adds. “If one’s blood pressure becomes dangerously elevated, despite preventive efforts, the condition can be managed with medications and under the supervision of a physician.”

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  1. Excuse me but yesterday on the news high bp was anything over 130/80 not 130/90.

    Would somebody like to say which one is it?

  2. Interesting since in Mexico the Dr. Says 120/80. I guess also depends on the gens (race), still we have a high blood pressure rate. Thanks Coca-Cola

  3. Sponsored by Phizer and Eli Lily. Does anyone really believe this is anything other than an attempt to put half the population on blood pressure medication ? Imagine the effects of this new standard; more doctor visits, more medications, more testing, more $$$. This will also disqualify more people from occupations with blood pressure requirements. What about patients that are already on medication and barely making 130/80 ? There’s no question hypertension, along with diabetes and obesity are at epidemic levels in America. Changing the definition of high blood pressure will not solve the problem.

  4. This doesn’t answer why more Americans have high blood pressure. I get that the percentage of people affected is projected to rise (how was this determined by the way??), yet there is no explanation provided for this statistic. It’s obvious to preach prevention to the general public who may or may not be informed about the problem, however this is misplaced because we still don’t know why. And what to do about it once we understand all the causes? Perhaps there are other factors at play here besides genetics and ‘healthy’ lifestyle… people are stressed and strapped, everywhere in the world this is true. People are having trouble paying for so many sources of expense in their lives and it takes a toll on the body- mortgages, food, car notes, childcare, education, health and other insurances, taxes, social security, and more. Not having a regular doctor, regular insurance year to year, a steady job, a steady family situation, and lots of support is VERY wearing on humans and I think it’s important to consider all factors in someone’s life in this ‘epidemic’ of high blood pressure that’s on the rise. I think the correlation to stress is huge and shouldn’t be underplayed. The problem is much bigger than individual behaviors.

  5. For many people lifestyle and diet changes will be what is needed to reduce blood pressure

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About the Author

Jaimie Oh
Jaimie Oh

Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.