Doctors Assess New Hypertension Guidelines for Minorities - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Doctors Assess New Hypertension Guidelines for Minorities

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    Doctors say new guidelines for diagnosing high blood pressure should greatly impact minority groups. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017)

    New blood pressure guidelines released Monday are prompting millions of Americans to re-evaluate their heart health.

    The new standards from the American Heart Association mean more Americans are now lumped into a higher risk category.

    Doctors say the change will mean more minorities will now be diagnosed with hypertension.

    The American Heart Association says well over half of all African American adults will be classified as having high blood pressure under the new guidelines.

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    Heart experts have lowered the target for high blood pressure from 140 over 90 to 130 over 80.

    "We know that African American and Mexican Americans in particular have some of the highest rates of high blood pressure and we know that this increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and the like," said Dr. Aaron Horne, a cardiologist at Methodist Dallas.

    He says high blood pressure affects minority groups at younger ages, some patients as early as in their 20s, and what's more concerning is many African and Latin Americans, he says, often go undiagnosed.

    "We know that also within African American communities and Latino communities, there's less penetrance of those individuals having primary care physicians," he said.

    Doctors say the changes are meant to raise awareness about the importance of lifestyle changes like better nutrition and exercise.

    Lorraine Peek, of Dallas, does what she can to control her high blood pressure.

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    "Being Latina and high blood pressure in my family, I try to do my best to stay on top of it," she says, knowing that one in four Latina women suffers from high blood pressure.

    "More education for us, the Latinas, so that we know, because all day we work and not even think about being at high risk. It's something everyone should know," says Peek.

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