The American Heart Association has updated its comprehensive guidelines for blood pressure and hypertension for the first time in 14 years. "And for those patients that are at highest risk, those that have had a cardiovascular event in the past, stroke or heart attack, or have diabetes, those are the kind of people we're going to be adding medication for it to bring their blood pressures down", Farrell said.
People with readings of 120 over 80 are still considered normal.
"If you take it right as the patient walks in, it's usually higher, because he has sort of a fight or flight response so he has 10 points more but then they relax and the pressure is normal", Dr. Fabregas said.
The guidelines were presented at the heart association's annual Scientific Sessions in Anaheim, Calif.
Instead of just one reading in the doctor's office, the new guidelines emphasize an average of readings over several visits, plus home blood pressure readings.
Doctors say make lifestyle changes. It's also known as a "silent killer" because often there are no symptoms.
"Millions of more people hopefully will have increased awareness about their blood pressure and maybe pay more attention to low salt diet, to diet, to exercise, to weight loss... it doesn't necessarily mean medication right off the bat", Mookherjee said.
The global hypertension drug market is already expected to climb to $32 billion by the end of 2020, according to analysts at Technavio, but now with the new guidelines for blood pressure set in place by the American Heart Association earlier this week, that market could rise even more as additional Americans may need medication.
But patients in the 120 systolic blood pressure group had a higher rate of kidney injury or failure, as well as fainting. Dr. Fabregas says when the high pressure ruins those pipes, or blood vessels, the heart has to work harder to pump blood.