New guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) define high blood pressure as 130 mm Hg or higher, for systolic (higher) blood pressure measurement and 80 mm Hg or higher for the diastolic blood pressure.
Naturally this will increase the number of persons having high blood pressure, according to measurement. However, the guidelines also stress that for most people, the recommended treatment can be lifestyle modification, such as weight loss, diet change and increased exercise level.
The new guidelines, now classify people's blood pressure measurements into following categories:
* Normal: Less than 120 mm Hg for systolic and less than 80 mm Hg for diastolic.
* Elevated: Between 120-129mm Hg for systolic, and less than 80 mm Hg for diastolic.
* Stage 1 hypertension: Between 130-139mm Hg for systolic or between 80 to 89mm Hg for diastolic.
* Stage 2 hypertension: At least 140 mm Hg for systolic or at least 90 mm Hg for diastolic.
In a closely monitored trial in US, it was found that patients who lowered their systolic blood pressure to around 120mm Hg were 27 percent less likely to die.
Researchers now know that people with blood pressure between 130 - 139 mm Hg have double the risk of cardovascular complications, compared with those with normal blood pressure levels.
New medical guidelines in USA recommend that doctors only prescribe blood pressure medication for stage 1 hypertension. Those below that level should go for diet modification that is high in fruits and vegetables and fibre and low in saturated fat and sodium (common salts).
Will our doctors follow the above recommendations of US doctors? That will change the scenario for hypertensive patients in our country.
S. A. Mansoor