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28 million Americans were just diagnosed with high blood pressure

If your blood pressure is too high, it might not be because of the political climate this time.

A panel of healthcare associations, including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, published new criteria this week redefining what classified as hypertension or high blood pressure.

The new number, 130/80 mmHg, representing the systolic pressure in your vessels over the diastolic pressure in your arteries, and is lower than the previous number of 140/90 mmHg.

This new ceiling for normal blood pressure also means that the category of “prehypertension” is eliminated. Instead, anything between 120/80 mmHg and 130/80 mmHg is considered elevated blood pressure, and anything above that is split between Stage One hypertension (up to 130/80 mmHg) and Stage Two (140/90 mmHg).

Bob Dole hospitalized for low blood pressure for more than a week

These new changes will increase the number of adults with hypertension in the U.S. from 75 million to 103 million. The American Heart Association says this will means about 14% more people will be diagnosed with hypertension, but note that only a fractional increase in those who will be prescribed medication.

This is the first change in blood pressure standards since 2003. Doctors are hoping the lower number will lead to earlier detection and intervention for blood pressure and heart-related illnesses, particularly in younger people, who can course correct their behaviors.

According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking.

Doctors also suggest approved home high blood pressure monitors, so patients can keep track of their readings in everyday life.

The change comes a few months after the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its blood pressure guidelines for children’s hypertension. Blood pressure in children is scaled depending on their age, while in adults it is the standard for all ages, but both changes are attempts to identify high blood pressure earlier and prevent gratuitous disease and death.

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