Published on July 17, 2018

New blood pressure guidelines

What do they mean for you?

From PINs to passwords, we need to keep track of a lot of important information.

BP numbersAnd here’s another bit of information that’s just as vital to know: your blood pressure numbers.

If you haven’t been paying attention to your blood pressure numbers lately, you could be putting your health at risk. That’s especially true now that medical experts have issued a new definition of high blood pressure that starts at lower numbers than before.

The new definition (part of complete new blood pressure guidelines issued by the American Heart Association) means that many more people now have high blood pressure that may need treatment. If you’re one of them, that’d be good to know. Over time, untreated high blood pressure can damage arteries and overwork your heart.

What is high blood pressure now?

High blood pressure (also called hypertension) used to start at 140/90 mm Hg (spoken as 140 over 90 millimeters of mercury). It now starts at a reading of 130/80 mm Hg. Remember, a blood pressure reading has two numbers: systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number).

The new definition of high blood pressure emphasizes the fact that complications from the condition can occur at lower numbers, says Sonela Skenderi, DO, FACC, a cardiologist at Mercy Cardiology at Nazareth Hospital. Monitoring and treating high blood pressure earlier could help you avoid consequences like these down the road: 

  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor circulation in the legs