Almost half of U.S. adults are considered to have high blood pressure as a result of updated guidelines for what constitutes hypertension. Tulane epidemiology professor Dr. Paul Whelton led the team that redefined the blood pressure guidelines and his hope is that it leads to lifestyle changes for some patients.
"Getting a good weight, healthy diet, physical activity, moderation of sodium, getting potassium in your diet, moderation of alcohol intake," Whelton said.
Previously, about one-third of Americans were estimated to have hypertension, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Whelton says the goal is to help patients more accurately understand the consequences of high blood pressure, so they can address it sooner.
"The underlying problem for most of us is that we don't have a good diet, we don't have enough physical activity, so lifestyle approaches," Whelton said.
Whelton says the new guidelines were written after an extensive review of over 900 published studies. He says high blood pressure is known as the silent killer, because often there are no symptoms. His hope is that adults will talk with their doctor about the new guidelines to see if lifestyle changes or medication is needed.