by: Raffi Terzian, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations, Senior Medical Director
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, heart failure and stroke as well as other conditions such as kidney disease. Factors such as family history, age, gender, and race or ethnicity may put someone at increased risk for developing hypertension. Lifestyle factors such as inactivity, a poor diet and being overweight can also contribute.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that nearly 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure and of those with high blood pressure, only about half have it under control.
The CDC also estimates that high blood pressure costs the nation around $48 billion each year related to the cost of health services, medications and missed days of work.
In November 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology published new guidelines recommending that the definition of high blood pressure be modified from starting at a systolic (top number) pressure of 140 or a diastolic pressure (bottom number) of 90 (stage 1) to starting at a systolic pressure of 130 or a diastolic pressure of 80. Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure less than 120 and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Based on the modified definition, it is anticipated that more Americans will be diagnosed with hypertension. The guidelines stress the importance of lifestyle management and provide direction with regard to who may benefit from treatment with medication.
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