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"The new definition results in only a small increase in the percentage of USA adults for whom antihypertensive medication is recommended in conjunction with lifestyle modification", according to the guidelines.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology published on Monday new guidelines defining high blood pressure as 130 over 80 rather than 140 over 90. The number of adults with high blood pressure, or hypertension, will rise to 103 million from 72 million under the previous standard.

Dr. Aznaurov said the only way people in this range would have to start medication is if they have another underlying cardiac disease.

"A lot more people are going to be diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure), but the result will be fewer cardiovascular events down the road", Gandhi said.

High blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart disease and kidney failure, Dr. Paris says.

The changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California. There are no obvious symptoms, which is why it is often called, "the silent killer".

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Doctors now recognize that complications "can occur at those lower numbers", said the first update to comprehensive USA guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003.

"The prevalence of hypertension among USA adults is substantially higher when the definition in the present guideline is used versus the [older] definition (46% versus 32%)", the authors write.

Healthy lifestyle changes include losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, not smoking, avoiding alcohol and salt, and reducing stress.

Despite an increase in the amount of Americans with high blood pressure, the AHA hopes their new guidelines mean there will be only a small increase in the amount of patients requiring medication.

The proper technique must be used to measure blood pressure, and levels "should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions", according to the new guidelines.

High blood pressure is caused when the force of blood pushing against vessel walls is too high.


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