People with an upper level of 120-129 have "elevated blood pressure".
Doctors now recognise that complications "can occur at those lower numbers", said the first update to comprehensive U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003. High blood pressure can stress vessels and cause them to be less elastic, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
For those not needing immediate medical treatment, Ferdinand said doctors will encourage non-medical, lifestyle changes to bring their blood pressure down before it leads to more serious risks.
"There is high-quality evidence demonstrating that team-based care models, particularly with pharmacists and nurses, improves hypertension treatment and control", said Eric MacLaughlin, PharmD, FASHP, FCCP, BCPS, who coauthored the new guidelines as APhA's representative member of the Guideline Writing Committee.
Much of the data to support the update came from Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial or SPRINT trial, a large-scale study of more than 9,000 people sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
That's a 14 percent increase from the previous guidelines, under which 72.2 million Americans (32 percent of adults) were considered to have high blood pressure.
While the new guidelines significantly increase the number of Americans with a diagnosis of hypertension, they do not suggest a proportionate increase in treating with medication. Another barrier is what he called "therapeutic inertia", the reluctance of some physicians and patients to try medication when a person with high blood pressure appears to be otherwise healthy.
Damage to blood vessels begins soon after blood pressure is elevated, said Whelton, who is the Show Chwan professor of global public health at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans.
Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of the heart muscle. Its second only to smoking.
To help understand the new hypertension guidelines and how they affect managing your health, see your healthcare professional. It recommends people 65 and older be treated to the same 130/80 goal as younger patients.
"SPRINT demonstrated significant benefit with the lower blood pressure goals", said MacLaughlin, who is also a professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy.
You have to escalate the treatment slower and monitor any side effects, he said.
The change is expected to triple the number of men under age 45 diagnosed with hypertension and double the number among women the same age.
Previously, those people were considered to have prehypertension, but not actual high blood pressure.
The new guidelines "take advantage of evidence nearly up to the minute, so they are very current", Whelton said.
Doctors should use a risk calculator to determine a patients risk of heart disease or stroke over the next 10 years.
The study authors recommend lifestyle changes, including exercise, diet modifications and weight loss, as the first step to reducing high blood pressure.
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