As of last November, the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association has updated their guidelines on what constitutes high blood pressure—high blood pressure is now defined as 130/80 compared to the previous 140/90. In terms of managing stroke, these new guidelines may be very important. Undetected or uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, and many people still die from stroke. Researchers and physicians believe that more proactive treatment of high blood pressure may lead to more successful management of stroke as well.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association explored this idea. The study reviewed data from more than 6 million stroke survivors age 20 and older who took part in a federal health survey between 2003 and 2014.
Researchers found that compared to the old blood pressure guidelines, the new guidelines resulted in a 67 percent relative increase in U.S. stroke survivors who should be treated for high blood pressure, from 1,415,974 survivors to 2,361,075. Most importantly, the study showed that if the new guidelines were applied when determining whether to administer blood pressure medication, death rates would decrease by nearly a third, from 8.3% to 5.6%.
While some may argue against the more aggressive use of medication, it is probable that monitoring blood pressure more closely could prevent stroke and death from stroke. Stroke remains a deadly medical condition, killing about 140,000 Americans each year—that is 1 out of every 20 deaths. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke; every 4 minutes, someone dies. Even when someone survives a stroke, the long-term effects of stroke can be devastating, especially if untreated within the critical “golden hour” following stroke.
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