Singapore will not adopt US' blood pressure limits: MOH

Registered nurse Patricia K. Henault is coordinator of Mercy Medical Center's stroke program. She calls the new blood pressure guidelines a

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 at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Anaheim, California.

Medical professionals suggest making lifestyle changes like exercising more and eating less salt to help with high blood pressure. Instead, anything between 120/80 mmHg and 130/80 mmHg is considered elevated blood pressure, and anything above that is split between Stage One hypertension (up to 130/80 mmHg) and Stage Two (140/90 mmHg).

Because the American Heart Association lowered the numbers, almost half the USA adult population is living with hypertension and at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

Chicopee resident Jim Denno joked about his reaction to the news: "My blood pressure went up".

Dr Chin Chee Tang, a senior cardiologist at the National Heart Centre Singapore, said doctors have always known that the effects of blood pressure on health are a continuum, so thresholds for "normal" or "not normal" are not always useful. They said the new lower numbers should make more people concerned.

Lifestyle modification and medication The guideline states that with this new level of diagnosis, it does not mean that patients need to start medication straight away, although they are already considered hypertensives. That includes changes to diet, exercise, losing weight and not smoking.

This is however, easier said than done as the minorities in America do not have the luxury of home blood pressure monitoring or even frequent visits to physicians just to check their blood pressure level.

"We know that African American and Mexican Americans in particular have some of the highest rates of high blood pressure and we know that this increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and the like", said Dr Aaron Horne, a cardiologist at Methodist Dallas.

Many pharmacies and stores allow you to check your blood pressure with a free machine. However, people who are prescribed medications for high blood pressure should continue to take them, even when their blood pressures are back to being in a healthy range.

The 2010 National Health Survey found that 23.5 per cent of people here are hypertensive, with one in four not being aware of it. He also said he monitors his blood pressure but has never had a problem.

Q: Is this a wake-up call for American's to pay more attention to heart health in general?

There are some ways to try lowering your blood pressure without resorting to taking a pill every day.

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