High blood pressure—also known as hypertension—is a major risk factor for heart disease, but there’s plenty we can do to control blood pressure and improve heart health, according to a statement published today.
Released by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and American Society of Hypertension, this statement offers the latest knowledge on treatment of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a common condition that currently affects nearly one-fourth of U.S. adults. High blood pressure often has no symptoms but can cause serious health problems like heart disease, which explains its reputation as the “silent killer.” The good news is that, once detected, there are plenty of ways to treat high blood pressure and reduce risk of complications.
Here’s what every patient should know about the latest update on high blood pressure treatment:
- High blood pressure is defined as having a systolic blood pressure (top number) greater than or equal to 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure (lower number) greater than or equal to 90 mmHg (140/90).
- High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Treating hypertension with healthy lifestyle choices and medication, when necessary, can help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of developing heart disease.
- Having additional cardiovascular risk factors such as high cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking, obesity and chronic kidney disease further increases risk of heart disease and heart events. Patients with high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors may require more aggressive treatment to reduce risk of complications.
- Risk for high blood pressure increases with age, so most Americans will develop hypertension at some point in life.
- There is no single blood pressure-lowering drug that works best when it comes to preventing heart attack and stroke. What matters most is that patients with hypertension find the right combination of treatment to achieve target blood pressure levels and adhere to treatment over time.
- Despite recent debate, research suggests that reducing blood pressure to 140/90 mmHg remains a reasonable goal for patients with hypertension. However, further reducing blood pressure below 130/80 mmHg may be appropriate in patients at especially high risk for heart attack and stroke.