The Definition of High Blood Pressure Has Changed—And It’s Lower Than Before

High Blood PressureFor the first time since 2003, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, along with several other health organizations, have updated the guidelines for detecting, preventing, and treating high blood pressure.

According to the new guidelines, high blood pressure is defined as 130/80 mmHg or higher. This is lower than the previous threshold for diagnosing high blood pressure, which was 140/90 mmHg.

Blood Pressure Above 130/80 mmHg Can Double Your Heart Disease Risk

With these updated guidelines, more Americans will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension. Under the previous definition, about 30 percent of U.S. adults had high blood pressure. With the new definition of 130/80 mmHg or higher, nearly half of U.S. adults will have high blood pressure.

Why the change? Research shows that adults whose blood pressure is 130 to 139 over 80 to 89 mmHg have double the risk for cardiovascular disease compared with those who have normal blood pressure, which is defined as less than 120/80 mmHg.

Lifestyle Changes and Medication Can Help Control Blood Pressure

Have your blood pressure checked at least every two years if it’s normal. If it’s high, your doctor will check it more often. If you are diagnosed with hypertension early enough, you may not need medication to control it. Often, lifestyle changes can bring it within a healthier range.

Some steps you can take to lower your blood pressure are:

  • Eating a healthy diet that’s low in salt
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Increasing physical activity

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