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High Blood Pressure Redefined Under New Guidelines

Blood Pressure Guidelines Have Changed

(The following is an excerpt from a WDAM news article.)

For the first time in 14 years, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have redefined high blood pressure from the old definition of 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.

The statement was released Nov. 13, stating that guidelines were put in place “for detection, prevention, management and treatment of high blood pressure.”

Studies show that nearly half of the adult U.S. population (46 percent) will have high blood pressure, or hypertension, under the new guidelines in comparison to only 1 in 3 U.S adults having high blood pressure under the old definition.

“High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking,” the statement said. “It’s known as the ‘silent killer’ because often there are no symptoms, despite its role in significantly increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.”

The new guidelines also eliminate the prehypertension category.  This means that, under the new guidelines, people who have a blood pressure reading of systolic (top number) between 130 – 139 mm Hg will now be considered in stage 1 hypertension. People who have a blood pressure reading of systolic between 120 – 139 mm Hg will be categorized as elevated.

Stage 2 hypertension is classified as being systolic at least 140 mm Hg.

The new guidelines are as follows, according to the statement:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
  • Elevated: Top number (systolic) between 120-129 and bottom number (diastolic) less than 80;
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
  • Hypertensive crisis: Top number over 180 and/or bottom number over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.

WDAM’s report on the new BP guidelines featured input from several local physicians, including Philip Mellen, MD, MS, with Hattiesburg Clinic Hypertension Center.

Click here to watch the report.

Katie Townsend


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