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. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg; elevated is systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80; Stage I is systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89; and Stage II is systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg.
Dr. Larry Gordon from Aspirus said the association most likely made the changes to be proactive and lower the risk of people being diagnosed with more serious illnesses later on.
"You've already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure", said Paul K. Whelton, lead author of the guidelines.
The changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California.
130/80 is the new high - a change from the old definition of 140/90. It's also known as a "silent killer" because often there are no symptoms.
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The American Heart Association says falling into this category won't always call for medication, but it's rather a yellow light to lowering blood pressure.
The AHA hopes that the new guidelines won't mean more people will use medication, so much as the hope more people will make the lifestyle changes necessary to address hypertension.
"If you are going to put money into the healthcare system, it's to everyone's advantage if we treat and prevent on this side of it, in early treatment".
However, the AHA advises "stage one" patients with blood pressure between 130/80 and 140/90 to lose weight, exercise and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains before trying medication.
Gandhi recommends that people who are at risk of high blood pressure buy a quality blood pressure cuff that wraps around their arms and to become comfortable taking their own blood pressure readings from time to time and reporting them to their doctor.