Americans with blood pressure of 130/80 or higher should be treated, down from the previous trigger of 140/90, according to new guidelines announced on Monday by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
The global hypertension drug market is already expected to climb to $32 billion by the end of 2020, according to analysts at Technavio, but now with the new guidelines for blood pressure set in place by the American Heart Association earlier this week, that market could rise even more as additional Americans may need medication.
Doctors now recognise that complications "can occur at those lower numbers", said the first update to comprehensive United States guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003.
"We know that high blood pressure is one of the major causes of heart attack and strokes", said Dr. David Shearer, Family Medicine Physician, SSM Health. Normal is defined as 120/80 or less.
The new guidelines will result in almost half of US adults having high blood pressure, or hypertension - but, there will only be a small increase in those prescribed medication. One was tasked with lowering their systolic pressure (the first number, which measures the blood pressure when your heart pulses) to below 120, the other, to below 140.
Healthy lifestyle changes include losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier, not smoking, avoiding alcohol and salt, and reducing stress.
Damage to blood vessels is already beginning once blood pressure reaches 130/80, said the guidelines, which were based in part on a major USA government-funded study of over 9,000 people nationwide.
Dr Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY, said he agrees with the change "because it allows for early lifestyle changes to be addressed".
The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times.
WECT's Ben Smart is interviewing two cardiologists today to understand what these new heart health guidelines mean for you. "Rather, it brings to light the need to make lifestyle changes".