Our partners at the American Heart Association have shared new blood pressure treatment guidelines that will change the way high blood pressure is diagnosed and managed in America
They are now defining high blood pressure as a systolic measurement of 130 and higher, or a diastolic measure of 80 and higher. Previously the blood pressure definition was set at 140 and 90 respectively. By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.
They also eliminated the "pre-hypertension" category for blood pressure ranging from 120 to 139 systolic, and 80 to 89 diastolic. The team of experts who wrote the guidelines determined that people needed to understand their increasing risk to take swift action.
High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. 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 guidelines will replace the 2003 guidelines published by the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. In 2013, the National Institutes of Health entrusted the AHA and ACC to produce the first comprehensive guideline update in 14 years.
The new guidelines also stress the importance of using proper technique to measure blood pressure. Blood pressure levels should be based on an average of two to three readings on at least two different occasions.
You can find updated resources for patients at www.heart.org/hbp. Clinical tools have also been updated on www.targetbp.org.