The findings mean that an additional 14% of USA adults, or about 30 million people, will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure, bringing the total number to 100 million people living with the condition in the U.S. But it increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. The number of adults with high blood pressure, or hypertension, will rise to 103 million from 72 million under the previous standard.
"I think people are going to be alarmed to wake up this morning to find out that they have hypertension, when they didn't have hypertension yesterday", says Dr. James Jarvis, interim vice president and chief medical officer at Eastern Maine Medical Center.
Though more people will need treatment, Jarvis says most of those newly defined as having high blood pressure will not need medication.
By lowering the threshold, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology hope to spur earlier intervention, to prevent further increases in blood pressure, and the complications that come with it.
The changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California.
Identifying socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress as risk factors for high blood pressure that should be considered in a patient's plan of care.
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Cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the impact of the new guidelines.
Readings even below those numbers - previously called "pre-hypertension" or "high-normal blood pressure" - signify serious risks too.
Doctors say make lifestyle changes. The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke.
The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times.
However, the AHA advises "stage one" patients with blood pressure between 130/80 and 140/90 to lose weight, exercise and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains before trying medication.