Experts from the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association (AHA) and nine other health professional organizations released new guidelines Monday for treating high blood pressure earlier with lifestyle changes or, in some patients, medication.
At the new cutoff, around 46 percent, or more than 103 million, of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure, compared with an estimated 72 million under the previous guidelines in place since 2003.
"You would think the people that have high blood pressure would be the people that are over weight, they smoke, they don't take care of them selves, don't eat well and certainly that's a possibility, but that doesn't have to be the case", said Dr. Gordon. Previously, one in three (32 per cent) had the condition, which is the second leading cause of preventable heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking.
Normal blood pressure is still below 120/80, but now 120-129/80 is considered an "elevated blood pressure", and 130-139/80-89 is "stage 1 hypertension". Five years later, when that patient has a reading of 140 over 90 and is overweight, he or she is at significantly greater risk of cardiovascular disease so they are immediately placed on blood pressure medicine and counseled on exercise and healthy eating.
Rather than 1 in 3 US adults having high blood pressure with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in almost half of the USA adult population having the condition.
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"The prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45", according to the report.
More guidance for how people should manage their blood pressure, focusing on lifestyle improvements.
The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times.
FOX Business reached out to some of the top pharma companies named above but did not immediately receive a comment on how the new guidelines could potentially impact sales going forward. The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke. "Rather, it brings to light the need to make lifestyle changes".