Lehigh Valley

New blood pressure guidelines to detect problems sooner

VIDEO: New blood pressure guidelines...

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. - Change is coming to blood pressure guidelines.

Doctors say the move is meant to help people realize there may be a problem before it's too late.

The American College of Cardiology announced the change to lower the blood pressure threshold on Tuesday.

"The data now suggests that lower is better," said Dr. Andrew Sumner, director of cardiology with Lehigh Valley Health Network. "It conveys greater benefit and greater reduction in developing bad things like dying, or stroke."

Sumner says the change is a result of years of research. If doctors and patients can get blood pressure under control early, it could prevent a major health event.

"In 2010, it was reported that high blood pressure is the number one worldwide cause of death and disability, and it is because it's the silent killer," added Sumner.

New guidelines show if your blood pressure is 130-139 systolic over 80-89 diastolic, you will be in a category of hypertension stage one.

Anything over 140 systolic and 90 diastolic, doctors say you are in hypertension stage two. That's a shift of between 10-20 points lower than the old readings. 

"People don't know their blood pressure is elevated," said Sumner. "They don't know that they are in the process of developing the risks for having a stroke, a heart attack."

Not all categories are going to require medication, according to Sumner. Some changes can be handled by changing diet and exercise habits. The goal is to know there is a problem sooner than later.


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