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American Heart Association

Updates Blood Pressure Guidelines

In the fall of 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology announced new blood pressure guidelines. The guidelines lowered the threshold of what is considered high blood pressure, or hypertension, to 130/80. Why the change? New research has demonstrated that a person has double the risk of cardiovascular complications compared with those who have normal readings, and they wanted the general public to be aware of this finding.

The new guidelines are:
  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;

  • Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and 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: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic 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.

The good news is that there is a focus on lifestyle changes to bring readings back to normal, given the appropriateness for the individual.

Some lifestyle changes to consider include:
  • Weight loss for overweight or obese patients with a heart healthy diet;

  • Nutritional changes, including the researched DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension) diet;

  • Increased physical activity with a structured exercise program;

  • Men should be limited to no more than 2 and women no more than 1 standard alcohol drink(s) per day.

The usual impact of each lifestyle change is a 4-5 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure and 2-4 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure; but nutritional changes may decrease systolic blood pressure by approximately 11 mm Hg.


These are changes worth noting!

Work with your physician to discuss what the change in guidelines might mean to you. They can also monitor any changes, especially as you start seeing positive effects of lifestyle changes you make. Work with your health coach to explore lifestyle options that will work for you and gain accountability to your goals. Your personal trainer can tailor physical activity programs if that is an area of interest for you. Wellness 65 can be of service to you on all accounts!





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