New BP Guidelines: Women’s Risk Soars

 

High blood pressure rates could nearly triple among men age 20 to 44 – up to 30 percent from 11 percent. Women in that age group will see their rates almost double, to 19 percent from 10 percent.

Nearly half of American adults are at risk for major health problems because of high blood pressure, according to a new scientific guideline that redefines the dangerous condition and provides tactics for doctors to detect, treat and prevent it.

People with readings of 130 as the top number or 80 as the bottom one now are considered to have high blood pressure, according to the guideline released Monday by the American Heart Association. High blood pressure used to be defined as 140/90.

The change means 46 percent of U.S. adults are identified as having high blood pressure, compared with 32 percent under the previous definition. A blood pressure of less than 120/80 still will be considered normal, but levels at or above that, to 129, will be called “elevated.”

The new guideline is designed to help people take steps to control their blood pressure earlier, according to the authors. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world.

The guidelines say it can be lifesaving: “BP lowering therapy is one of the few interventions shown to reduce mortality risk in frail older individuals.” Men and women age 65 to 74 under the new classification will see high blood pressure rates increase by 13 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Here are how some other groups will be affected by the new measurements:

  • High blood pressure rates could nearly triple among men age 20 to 44 – up to 30 percent from 11 percent. Women in that age group will see their rates almost double, to 19 percent from 10 percent.
  • Roughly three-quarters of men between 55 and 74 could be diagnosed with high blood pressure.
  • Black and Hispanic men will experience a 17 percent increase in rates. Asian men will see a 16 percent increase.