The Annals of Cardiology No. 11 | New Blood Pressure Guidelines
One thing doctors are good at is labeling patients as sick when they feel fine. This is because part of our mission is to identify asymptomatic conditions before they lead to future problems. Cardiologists excel at this – we love to search out minor blockages that aren’t causing trouble, we measure cholesterol and sugar levels, monitor inflammatory markers, and of course we’re always talking blood pressure.
As if that’s enough, doctors also have the power to fill their waiting rooms by changing the criteria for what’s normal. We did in this in 1997 when we changed the definition of diabetes from a fasting glucose of 140 mg/dL to 126 mg/dL. Overnight, millions more people had diabetes. Now it’s happened again, this time with blood pressure. When Americans awoke on November 13th, 2017, 31 million more of them had high blood pressure. This wasn’t a due to a delayed realization of who they voted in as president, it was thanks to the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology changing the definition of hypertension from 140/90 to 130/80 mmHg.
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