New blood pressure guidelines from AHA put millions in the red

Jack Roberts, Current Events Editor

In a recent study released by the American Heart Association, the threshold for hypertension (high blood pressure), was lowered from 140/90 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg. This reduction has put nearly half the population, 46% of citizens, in the category of having high blood pressure. With the new guidelines, 103 million US citizens have hypertension, up from the previous estimate of 72 million.

The standard for a normal blood pressure remains at 120/80 mmHg or lower, but high blood pressure remains the second highest killer of preventable strokes and heart attacks, second only to smoking. Hypertension is linked with earlier deaths, and other health complications such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

These guidelines are not necessarily meant to increase the amount of prescriptions issued for hypertension, but instead act as a wakeup call. Many hope it will promote a healthier lifestyle that can lower one’s blood pressure. Dr. Paul Whelton, a co-author of the guidelines and a professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans says, “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”