Half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure in new rules

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For the 46 percent of Americans now with high blood pressure, the AHA recommends doctors prescribe medication to keep the hypertension under control and that the patients exercise more and eat a healthier diet.

Millions of Americans are being told to look at their numbers after the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations gave a major overhaul to blood pressure guidelines. Previously, one in three (32 per cent) had the condition, which is the second leading cause of preventable heart disease and stroke, after cigarette smoking.

Patients with blood pressure of 130/80 would now be diagnosed with hypertension or abnormally high blood pressure.

"By being more aggressive when people are younger, we hope to prevent bad outcomes later", Dr. Siddharth Gandhi of Advocate Heart Institute at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal said Monday.

Adults with blood pressure of 130/80 "already have double the risk of heart attack compared to someone in the normal range", said Dr. Paul Whelton, professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and School of Medicine in New Orleans and lead author of the new guidelines.

This comes after the American Heart Association redefined guidelines for the first time in almost a decade.

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High blood pressure is sometimes called a silent killer because there are no symptoms.

The American Heart Association says falling into this category won't always call for medication, but it's rather a yellow light to lowering blood pressure.

The old standard listed a reading above 140 over 90 as high blood pressure.

Damage to blood vessels is already beginning once blood pressure reaches 130/80, said the guidelines, which were based in part on a major U.S. government-funded study of over 9,000 people nationwide.

FOX Business reached out to some of the top pharma companies named above but did not immediately receive a comment on how the new guidelines could potentially impact sales going forward. Now 103 million people will have high blood pressure.