New blood pressure range means half of Americans have hypertension

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America's leading heart experts on Monday issued new guidelines for high blood pressure that mean tens of millions more Americans will meet the criteria for the condition, and will need to change their lifestyles or take medicines to treat it.

The new guidelines classify high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90.

"We now know that a blood pressure level between 130-139/80-89 doubles your risk of cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack compared to people whose blood pressure is under 120/80", says Paul Whelton, M.D.

High blood pressure is the No. 2 cause of preventable heart disease and stroke behind smoking, Gandhi said.

Millions more Americans will be classified as having high blood pressure, but this doesn't necessarily mean more people will be put on medication.

Previously, the AHA said 32 percent of adults in the US had high blood pressure (hypertension) but with the new guidelines, about 46 percent have hypertension.

Blood pressure of 120 over 80 is still considered normal, with any systolic pressure reading up to 129 considered "elevated".

Now 46 percent of USA adults will have high blood pressure. Before, both these ranges were classified as "prehypertension", and 140-159/90-99 was "stage 1 hypertension".

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.

The new guidelines also emphasize the importance of accurate blood pressure measurements, using an average of different readings at different times.

Medication is recommended for people with stage 1 hypertension only "if a patient has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or is at high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk".

Hypertensive crisis is systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.

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