In November 2017 the American Heart Association announced changes to US Blood Pressure guidelines which means that almost half of American adults are now classed as living with high blood pressure.
The American threshold for high blood pressure was previously 140/90 mmHG – as it is in the UK – but following these changes, high blood pressure in the USA is now recognised with a reading of 130/80 mmHG or higher. This means that 103 million Americans now need to make changes to their lifestyle in order to lower their blood pressure.
Those who are affected by the new guidelines must look to alter their lifestyle with healthier diet choices and improving fitness in order to help lower their blood pressure. In more serious cases, people with higher readings must now take medication to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of the more serious effects of Hypertension such as heart attack or stroke.
The clear message from the American Heart Association is that when it comes to blood pressure, lower is better and it is hoped that the updated recommendations will help to improve cardiovascular health for adults across the United States.
A blood pressure reading measures how much force the blood places on the walls of the arteries each time the heart beats (systolic pressure) and the same force when the heart is resting between beats (diastolic pressure). Under the new guidelines, a healthy blood pressure reading is still classed as 120/80 mmHG, but there is now a smaller gap between this and the lowest threshold for hypertension (130). Previously, anyone with a systolic reading between 120-129 was considered to have pre-hypertension, but under the new guidelines they would now be treated for Hypertension, which carries a greater risk of serious health complications.
People with a systolic reading between 130-140 are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than those who have healthy blood pressure. The new American guidelines are designed to raise awareness of the importance of measuring and understanding blood pressure, and to remind people to be more mindful of their heart health. Tackling blood pressure before a sufferer’s readings become too high means that smaller changes to lifestyle can make a marked difference, and more drastic measures such as prescribing medication may not be immediately necessary.
Will these guidelines be recognised in the UK?
The obvious question now is whether the UK will follow the US in making these changes. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently considering evidence from the US and is expected to publish any changes on 22 August 2019. If the advice is adopted in the UK, up to 50% of adults could be placed into the High Blood Pressure category. The benefit of becoming aware of these potential new guidelines now is that we are able educate ourselves on our own blood pressure levels, and make changes before our health is put at risk.
Home blood pressure monitors are a helpful tool in understanding and controlling our own blood pressure. Many people struggle to take time out to see their GP, and testing at home when we feel more at ease will help to give a more accurate reading. Kinetik Blood Pressure Monitors are easy to use and tested to ESH standards (the European Society of Hypertension), proving their accuracy.