New Guidelines Lower Hypertension Threshold, Author to Speak at UA

  • March 2nd, 2018
Dr. Paul Whelton

The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association recently announced new clinical guidelines for blood pressure management that lower the threshold for hypertension, resulting in nearly half of the U.S. adult population having high blood pressure.

Dr. Paul Whelton led the team that redefined high blood pressure for the first time in more than a decade. Whelton says the goal of the new guidelines is to help patients more accurately understand their cardiovascular risk so they can address it sooner. High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths in the U.S.

The new guidelines outline blood pressure in several categories ranging from normal to hypertensive crisis. Normal is less than 120/80 mmHg. Hypertensive crisis is systolic 180 and/or diastolic over 120, and calls for immediate medical attention. The updated guidelines remove the prehypertension category.

Despite the jump in the number of American adults having high blood pressure, only a small percentage will require antihypertensive medication.

The new blood pressure guidelines were developed by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association, along with nine other professional organizations. They were written by a panel of 21 scientists and health experts who reviewed more than 900 published studies.

Whelton will provide the David and Natica Bahar Memorial Lecture for The University of Alabama’s College of Community Health Sciences March 8. The endowed lecture will be held in the Willard Auditorium at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

Whelton, a professor and epidemiologist, is the Show Chwan Health System Endowed Chair in Global Public Health at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

Whelton’s research interests include cardiovascular and renal disease epidemiology, clinical trials, health policy and global health. He has led numerous major National Institutes of Health blood pressure intervention trials, and has chaired many working groups and committees for NIH, the American Heart Association, the Institute of Medicine, the Irish Government and the Show Chwan Health System in Taiwan. He received his bachelor’s of medicine and medical degrees from the University College Cork – National University of Ireland.

The Bahar Memorial Lecture

The David and Natica Bahar Memorial Lecture was established in 1987 by the late Dr. David Bahar in memory of his wife. The lecture seeks to promote the quality and practice of internal medicine at College of Community Health Sciences by annually supporting a distinguished lecturer in internal medicine.

Bahar was well known throughout Tuscaloosa County for his work in the fight against tuberculosis. He was a clinical professor in the college’s department of internal medicine and served as past president of the Alabama TB Hospital Association and the Alabama Thoracic Society.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.