Is your blood pressure too high?

Tighter blood pressure guidelines from US heart organizations mean millions more people need to make lifestyle changes, or start taking medication, in order to avoid cardiovascular problems.

Medical experts focusing on heart health released new guidelines Monday for high blood pressure, also called hypertension. "And for those patients that are at highest risk, those that have had a cardiovascular event in the past, stroke or heart attack, or have diabetes, those are the kind of people we're going to be adding medication for it to bring their blood pressures down", Farrell said.

Blood pressure of 120 over 80 is still considered normal, with any systolic pressure reading up to 129 considered "elevated".

The AHA says the new guidelines are created to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

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 guidelines were presented at the heart association's annual Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, Calif.

"Now, hopefully, people who didn't think they were at risk now realize that a blood pressure of 130 or more is actually something to be concerned about", Dr. Mookherjee said.

Gandhi described the new guidelines as "sound" and "a long time coming".

High blood pressure can mean serious problems with your heart.

Doctors say make lifestyle changes. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said.

The new guidelines are expected to lead to a surge of people in their 40s with high blood pressure - once considered a disorder mainly among people aged 50 and older.

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. Dr. Fabregas says when the high pressure ruins those pipes, or blood vessels, the heart has to work harder to pump blood.

  • Sylvester Abbott