Understanding the Updated Hypertension Guidelines: Part 1 of our World Hypertension Day Blog Series

Today 17th May 2023, is World Hypertension Day! As part of Integra’s efforts to raise awareness and increase education for World Hypertension Day and beyond, we will be doing a 3-part short blog series on hypertension starting today. Today’s short blog is on ‘Understanding the Updated Hypertension Guidelines’.

Hypertension, generally known as high blood pressure, is a condition where the force of blood against the walls of the arteries is consistently elevated. It is a significant risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other complications and affects millions worldwide. To help manage this condition, various organisations issue guidelines to healthcare professionals regarding diagnosis and treatment.

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association (ACC/AHA) released updated hypertension guidelines that differed from previous recommendations.

The new guidelines lowered the threshold for diagnosing hypertension from:

  • A systolic blood pressure (the top number) of 140 mm Hg or higher to 130 mm Hg or higher 
  • A diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of 90 mm Hg or higher to 80 mm Hg or higher

This meant that more people were now classified as having hypertension.

In addition to the lower thresholds, the guidelines also emphasized the importance of lifestyle modifications as a first-line treatment for hypertension, including weight loss, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Medications are still recommended for those with hypertension at high risk of heart disease or other comorbidities.

The updated guidelines also introduced a new elevated blood pressure category with a systolic blood pressure between 120-129 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure less than 80 mm Hg. People with elevated blood pressure are at increased risk of developing hypertension and are advised to make lifestyle changes to prevent the condition from worsening.

It is important to note that these guidelines are specific to the American population and may not always apply to other countries or regions. Additionally, guidelines are not meant to replace clinical judgment and should be used with a healthcare provider’s expertise.

Dr Bhakta-Perry, our newest member of our GP team at Integra Healthcare, comments on the updated guidelines and the importance of individuals booking a checkup with a GP:

“Here in the Cayman Islands we have a population that is rich in diversity. With this brings different risk factors for hypertension and cardiovascular disease (CVD). We use a combination of the American, British (NICE) and European guidelines alongside each individual’s risk factors, clinical history and examination to help in diagnosis and to formulate their personalised management plan.

The guidelines all overlap and the overriding message is that they all diagnose hypertension from 130-140 systolic/80-90 diastolic which is something people can bear in mind when measuring their BP. If you are close to this range or at/above this range, it is important to speak to your family physician /general practitioner so that you can get tailored advice on management and prevention of debilitating complications such as heart attacks and strokes. Hypertension is easily manageable and there are a variety of both pharmacological and non pharmacological options.”

We hope this short article has helped in better understanding the updated hypertension guidelines. If you notice your BP measurements are around the updated measurements classed as hypertension it is important to reach out to a GP.

GPs can firstly do a professional reading to ensure your blood pressure measurements are as accurate as possible and if your readings confirm a diagnosis of hypertension, they can as Dr Bhakta-Perry mentions, offer some advice on managing this condition in addition to much more!

To book an appointment with one of our GPs at Integra or schedule your blood pressure screening, please contact us at 745-7450.

Click here to learn more about Dr Bhatka-Perry and her service offering.

Make sure to check back here tomorrow for our second blog post in this series on ‘The importance of an accurate BP measurement’.

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