Unfortunately, high blood pressure (aka hypertension) isn’t known as the “silent killer” for no reason. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), can do significant damage to your circulatory system when untreated, leading to heart attacks, strokes and other health threats.
One in three Americans live with the condition—well, that is until now. New guidelines were just released by the AHA (in a joint decision with the American College of Cardiology and nine other health organizations)this week that suggest millions of other people now fall under the high blood pressure category, which means almost half of all Americans—46 percent or 103.3 million people—are affected.
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As ABC News reports, the new parameters label high blood pressure as 130/80 instead of 140/90, which could come as a shock to many people who test at these numbers regularly and have always been considered normal. “It will involve 50 percent of men and 38 percent of all adult women in the U.S.,” said Dr. William White, a professor in the cardiology center at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. “It’s a huge number of people.”
The authors (a panel of 21 scientists who reviewed more than 900 studies) of the revised guidelines noted that although all hypertension patients will be counseled about lifestyle changes to manage their high blood pressure, only a small fraction will be prescribed medication. Dr. White told ABC News that such lifestyle changes could include watching your salt intake, exercising more regularly, relaxing, getting a proper amount of sleep, and eating more potassium-rich fruits and vegetables.
The modified regulations are believed to have the most impact on younger and middle-age adults, according to the authors, with prevalence of high blood pressure expected to triple among men under age 45 and double among women under age 45.