Updated blood pressure guidelines encourage earlier intervention to decrease heart risks

A New Normal

Is my blood pressure normal? New hypertension guidelines may put you in a higher risk category

The American College of Cardiologists (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) recently redefined high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. The first comprehensive update since 2003, these new guidelines introduce a category of hypertension called elevated blood pressure, 120 to 129/80, which indicates cause for concern. High blood pressure is now defined as 130/80 or higher, with the previous definition at 140/90 or higher. The new normal is less than 120/80.

According to the AHA, a lower definition of high blood pressure is expected to promote earlier preventive care and intervention, such as lifestyle changes or medication. This should help prevent further increases in blood pressure as well as complications related to hypertension, including heart disease, vascular disease and stroke.

More adults now being diagnosed with hypertension

Because of the new guidelines’ emphasis on earlier intervention, only a small increase in the number of adults requiring antihypertensive medication was expected. However, following the release of the guidelines, the number of U.S. adults diagnosed with hypertension grew from 32 percent to 46 percent. In addition, guideline authors anticipate the prevalence of high blood pressure to triple among men under age 45 and double among women under 45.

(Audio) Listen to our doctors discussing blood pressure risk factors

Listen to Henry An Tran, MD, and Christopher deFilippi, MD, discuss blood pressure risk factors and prevention:

Click to listen: Inova “Ask the Doctor” segment on new blood pressure guidelines >

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