New Guidelines for High Blood Pressure From AHA/ACC Will Effect Millions In U.S.

UVA’s Robert Carey, MD, Served as Vice Chair of Guidelines Committee | 

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently released revised national guidelines for hypertension that are likely to effect the way millions of patients are diagnosed and treated for the disease. UVA’s Robert Carey, MD, Professor Emeritus of Medicine in DOM’s Division of Endocrinology, served as vice chair of the joint AHA-ACC committee that developed the new guidelines.

The new guidelines were the subject of a front-page article in the New York Times, published the day the guidelines were released, which quotes Dr. Carey in exploring the likely impact of the revised definition for high blood pressure. “The numbers are scary,” said Dr. Carey. (“Under New Guidelines, Millions More Americans Will Need to Lower Blood Pressure,” Gina Kolata, p. A1, Nov. 13, 2017).

The new recommendations define high blood pressure as 130/80 mm Hg, rather than the previous 140/90. This change, says an ACC press release, “will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46%) having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people. Additionally, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under 45, the guideline authors note. However, only a small increase is expected in the number of adults requiring antihypertensive medication.” The lower definition will account for complications that can occur at lower numbers, and will allow for earlier intervention.

The ACC notes that the new ACC/AHA guidelines were developed with nine other health professional organizations and were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies. “They are the successor to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC7), issued in 2003 and overseen by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In 2013, the NHLBI asked the AHA and ACC to continue the management of guideline preparation for hypertension and other cardiovascular risk. The guidelines were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Hypertension.

For a wide array of ACC-developed tools, resources and commentary for both clinicians and patients, visit the ACC’s High Blood Pressure Guidelines Hub.”