In a move that will affect millions of Americans, The American Heart Association released new blood pressure guidelines for the detection, prevention, management, and treatment of high blood pressure. Previously, a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or less was considered the norm. According to the new guidelines, normal blood pressure is anything under 120/80 mm Hg. Blood pressure above 130/80 mm Hg is now classified as hypertension. Although this categorization means millions of Americans will now have high blood pressure, it does not necessarily mean there will be a rise in medication usage. The inclusion of a new category, “Elevated Blood Pressure,” allows for people to notice subtle increases in blood pressure beyond the normal range. This will serve as an early signal to make preventative lifestyle changes in order to avoid a future hypertension diagnosis.
New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension. American College of Cardiology. “The new guidelines – the first comprehensive set since 2003 – lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and to allow for earlier intervention. The new definition will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people.”
Half of US adults have high blood pressure in new guidelines. ABC News. “The change means an additional 14 percent of U.S. adults have the problem, but only an additional 2 percent will need medication right away; the rest should try healthier lifestyles, which get much stronger emphasis in the new advice. Poor diets, lack of exercise and other bad habits cause 90 percent of high blood pressure.”
American Heart Association Announces New Blood Pressure Guidelines. 5 News. ““This particular group of people who had more than 130/80 but less than 140/90, we used to call prehypertensive. Now we've completely scraped off that term,” Cardiologist Dr. Ashu Dhanjal said […] this is important because such a large portion of people in the U.S. were becoming hypertensive. She said people will have to act to make lifestyle modifications like eating a healthy diet and exercising.”
New Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean Yours Might Be Too High Now. NBC News. “Previously, people were not considered to have high blood pressure until the top reading hit 140. “Normal hasn’t changed. We are still saying that it is great and it is normal to have a systolic blood pressure reading below 120 and a diastolic reading under 80,” Whelton said.”
Under New Guidelines, Millions More Americans Will Need to Lower Blood Pressure. The New York Times. “While agreeing that lower blood pressure is better, Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, a preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the VA Boston, worries about having doctors and patients fixating on a particular goal. It’s true, he said, that doctors ought to be more aggressive in treating people at high risk. But, he added, “If a patient comes in with a blood pressure of 180, I will not get him to 130.””
For more information on high blood pressure and the new guidelines visit the American Heart Association’s Understanding Blood Pressure Readings and High Blood Pressure pages.