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Under Pressure: Hypertension Standards Reclassified

More Americans are expected be diagnosed with high blood pressure under new standards released by two major health groups. (Nelson Pavlosky/flickr)
More Americans are expected be diagnosed with high blood pressure under new standards released by two major health groups. (Nelson Pavlosky/flickr)
December 20, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. – Just in time for the holidays when some people's blood pressure may be running high with changes in diet and stress, the guidelines have changed for what classifies patients as having hypertension.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have eliminated the diagnosis of pre-hypertension and instead will classify people as having normal blood pressure, elevated, stage one hypertension or stage two hypertension.

Dr. Cori Repp with U.S. HealthWorks says it's going to change what many hear at the doctor's office.

"I think a lot of folks are going to be a little bit concerned that when they go into their physician's office, they're going to hear 'You have high blood pressure,' and unfortunately that is going to be the case for a lot more people,” she states. “The good news is, you can do things about that. "

Diet and exercise are the most effective ways to alleviate high blood pressure. The new guideline is designed to help people take steps to control their blood pressure earlier.

Repp estimates there will be a 30 percent increase in the population of people who have a diagnosis of high blood pressure and hypertension.

While there are medicines available to treat high blood pressure, experts don't believe the change in standards will lead to an increase in medication.

Repp says looking at all-natural approaches is the best step toward reduction.

"What we're trying to do is encourage people to lead a more healthy lifestyle, to watch their diet, to decrease that salt, really watch what you're eating over the holidays, decrease stress," she states.

People with readings of 130 as the top number or 80 as the bottom one now are considered to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure used to be defined as 140/90.


Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC