Hyper What? New Blood Pressure Guidelines Explained

In November 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association, leading authorities on heart disease in the US, announced new guidelines for diagnosing? hypertension. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone who is currently taking medication for hypertension needs to rush out for a new prescription.

According to ConsumerReports, the new guidelines lowers the requirements for what is considered hypertension. These new guidelines  will mainly affect younger adults and will triple the number of men under 45 who are considered to have hypertension and double the number for women.

Before Monday, the range for high blood pressure was defined as having a systolic blood pressure over 140, and diastolic blood pressure above 90 millimeters of mercury. According to the American Heart Association, systolic blood pressure (the top number on your monitor) indicates the amount of pressure your blood exerts on your artery walls each time the heart beats. Your diastolic pressure is defined as how much pressure your blood puts on your artery walls when the heart is resting, or not beating, between beats. This is the bottom number on your monitor.

With these new guidelines, high blood pressure is described as a reading over 130 millimeters of mercury for your systolic pressure, and over 80 for your diastolic pressure.

If you now find yourself in this category, but were previously considered as being prehypertensive changes in diet and exercise may be all that’s needed to bring your numbers back down to normal. So what steps should you be taking?

  • Don’t leave your BP unchecked

    The earlier you detect high blood pressure, the better positioned you are to make changes. High blood pressure can cause significant damage to blood vessels, and increase risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Monitoring your BP is easy and can be done at the doctor’s office or at home.

  • Take a closer look at your lifestyle

    Did you know that regular exercise can lower your systolic pressure by up to 9 points? Losing weight and nutrition changes can also help reduce blood pressure.

  • Talk to your doctor

    Make a plan of action with your doctor. Your physician can help advise you on how to manage your blood pressure and figure out the best approach to implementing lifestyle changes.

High blood pressure is serious, but manageable given the right level of diligence and care. The good news is that there are many tools, resources and technology available to help you navigate these waters and maintain good health.