Drop your cheeseburgers; it appears that now almost half of all Americans are now riddled with high blood pressure.
In a benchmark change of standards, many Americans now have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC).
If you have any understanding of blood pressure, the standard was changed from 140/90 to 130/80. At this level, these organizations believe that Americans should be treated for high blood pressure.
However, the disparity that has made headlines focuses on how the new standard shift the high blood pressure classification to nearly 46 percent of Americans.
“Yes, we will label more people hypertensive and give more medication, but we will save lives and money by preventing more strokes, cardiovascular events and kidney failure,” said Kenneth Jamerson, a professor of internal medicine and a hypertension specialist for the University of Michigan Health System, in a press release from the American Heart Association. “If you are going to put money into the healthcare system, it’s to everyone’s advantage if we treat and prevent on this side of it, in early treatment.”
Jamerson is one of the twenty-one experts who defined the new 130/80 standards. Such a process, according to the AHA press release, took several years to complete.
“We need to send the message that yes, you are at increased risk and these are the things you should be doing,” said Paul Whelton, chair of global public health at Tulane University in New Orleans in the same press release. “I’m not saying it’s easy to change our lifestyles, but that should be first and foremost.”
“I think this will encourage both patients to adhere to recommendations but also clinicians to be more vigorous in their attempts to prescribe lifestyle changes,” said Dr. Pamela Morris, chair of the ACC’s committee on prevention of cardiovascular disease, via Reuters coverage on the medical standard change.
Given the overt political stances of the American Heart Association, the new changes could potentially compel new legislative and political initiatives to try and legislate high blood pressure.
For example, the United Nation’s World Health Organization (WHO), in 2013, called for this very thing: legislate high blood pressure.
“Legislation is at the heart of effective control of different health risks, including high blood pressure. Legislation institutionalizes a country’s commitment, creates a focus of activity and controls private conduct in ways that informal measures cannot. It is therefore very important,” WHO said. And, the WHO suggested the creation of an enforcement authority should be attached to such legislation.
“It is vital to identify an enforcement authority within the legislation, as without one there is a high risk of weak enforcement. Sometimes, the lead agency is assigned this task in the legislation. It is also very important to have a strong monitoring system; nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups can be excellent partners in this area. The selection of the right enforcement authority, the right mix of penalties and the right enforcement procedures is critical for effective enforcement.”
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