Will new blood pressure guidelines cost Americans?

High blood pressure patient

Eleven medical groups including the American Heart Association are redefining the danger zone: the bar for systolic blood pressure is lowered from 140 points to 130.

As of Monday, 30 million more Americans now suffer from high blood pressure.

Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively cheap generics.

The findings mean that an additional 14% of US 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.

Cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the impact of the new guidelines.

"We want to be straight with people - if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it".


The guidelines do not change the definition of normal blood pressure as 120/80 or lower. The Association now generally recommends that patients with Stage 1 hypertension only be prescribed medication in the event of a heart attack or stroke, and they're also recommending that pharmaceutical companies combine multiple blood pressure drugs.

Identifying socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress as risk factors for high blood pressure that should be considered in a patient's plan of care.

Damage to blood vessels is already beginning once blood pressure reaches 130/80, said the guidelines, which were based in part on a major USA government-funded study of over 9,000 people nationwide.

Gandhi described the new guidelines as "sound" and "a long time coming".

Dr Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY, said he agrees with the change "because it allows for early lifestyle changes to be addressed".

"High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no signs or symptoms to go with it", says Dr. Calvin. Anything above is now considered "elevated" or "Stage 1" or "Stage 2". But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said. "Rather, it brings to light the need to make lifestyle changes".

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