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What Do the New High Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean for You?

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New guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) have lowered the definition of high blood pressure, or hypertension.

Under the new guidelines, 30 million more Americans will now be considered to have high blood pressure. If you are one of those 30 million people, you might be wondering: Why did the guidelines change? And what can I do to improve my heart health?

The New Guidelines

The new guidelines define high blood pressure as a systolic (top number) of more than 130 mmHg and a diastolic (bottom number) of more than 80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure is defined as less than 120/80. Elevated blood pressure is defined as 120/80 to 129/80. These guidelines apply to all adults, regardless of age and health history.

Previously, high blood pressure was defined as 140/90. Some older guidelines also relaxed the definition even further for people who were age 60 or older who had no history of heart problems and were at low risk.

Preventing Heart Disease

Despite many advanced cardiovascular treatments, heart disease is still the number one killer in America. And high blood pressure significantly increases your risk of developing heart disease. In fact, statistics show that 85-90 percent of people will develop high blood pressure in their lifetime.

Studies show that a blood pressure reading in the 130-139 range—which was not considered high under the previous guidelines—doubles your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

The new guidelines are intended to encourage doctors and patients to take action to lower blood pressure sooner, before it causes serious problems.

Identifying patients with blood pressure in the “elevated” range and encouraging them to take action sooner may help them to control their blood pressure with lifestyle changes alone and avoid treatment with medication.

Learn how to maintain your blood pressure in our blog!

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@cpbj.com

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