The guidelines, presented at a heart association meeting and published in Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also spell out exactly how health care providers and people at home should check blood pressure.
The nation's heart experts tightened the guidelines for high blood pressure Monday, a change that will sharply increase the number of USA adults considered hypertensive in the hope that they and their doctors will address the deadly condition sooner.
The update by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association is based on a three-year review of nearly 1,000 studies.
High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking.
Blood pressure should be checked at least once a year by a health professional, and diagnosing high pressure requires 2 or 3 readings on at least two occasions.
The guidelines were announced Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Anaheim. "We expect this guideline will cause our society and our physician community to really pay attention much more to lifestyle recommendations". While many patients need multiple drugs to get their blood pressure into a healthy range, most treatments are available as less-expensive generic pills.
Previously, those people were considered to have prehypertension, but not actual high blood pressure.
The government agency did not help write or officially endorse the guidelines - a change from previous versions - but it did back key research, including the 2015 study showing the value of lower blood pressure targets.
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"People with white-coat hypertension do not seem to have the same elevation in risk as someone with true sustained high blood pressure", Whelton said.
The change is expected to have the biggest effect on men and women under the age of 45. "It's a nice combination of understanding accurately average blood pressure and also understanding underlying risk".
According to Ferdinand, high blood pressure is the leading cause of heart conditions that lead to death and disability in America.
The rest of those at risk under the new guidelines will be urged to reduce their blood pressure through lifestyle changes - losing weight, eating healthful foods, cutting down on salt, increasing potassium-rich foods, exercising regularly and moderating their drinking, said Dr. Ferdinand is a professor of Clinical Medicine at the Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute and said rates of hypertension are even higher in the South than in other parts of the country. She is medical director of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.
"The upper number is called the systolic".
Stage 1: Systolic between 130 and139.
Systolic pressure is the amount of pressure in your arteries during contraction of the heart muscle. Hypertension leads to cardiovascular disease, strokes, severe kidney disease and other maladies that kill millions of Americans every year.
Kenneth Jamerson, M.D., Ph.D., professor of internal medicine and hypertension specialist at the University of MI was one of almost two dozen medical experts who wrote the new guidelines.