What the new blood pressure scale means for you


If your blood pressure was in a healthy range the last time you checked, check again. 

In November 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) revised their blood pressure guidelines. As a result, hypertension, or high blood pressure, has been redefined. 

Under these new guidelines, more — and younger — Americans will be diagnosed with high blood pressure. In fact, the AHA and ACC estimate that 46 percent of Americans are now living with high blood pressure, and they've developed this condition seemingly overnight.

However, the news is not all bad. These new guidelines account for our growing understanding of high blood pressure and how it can be prevented earlier in life. These new guidelines also reflect a growing consensus that antihypertensive medications alone aren't enough to treat high blood pressure. 

So what are the new guidelines? 

  • Normal blood pressure: 120 over 80 mmHg and below. This is the healthiest range under the new guidelines. Stay in this range by keeping up heart-healthy habits like eating a balanced diet and working out regularly.
  • Elevated blood pressure: 120 to 129 over 80 and below. If you have elevated blood pressure, you’re likely to develop high blood pressure unless you take steps to control it.
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130 to 139 over 80 to 89. If you fall within this range, your healthcare provider will likely prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider prescribing blood pressure medication.
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 or above over 90 or above. At Stage 2, your health care provider will likely prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
  • Hypertensive crisis: 180 or above over 120 or above. If your readings fall within this range, you may experience symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness or weakness, vision changes or difficulty speaking. If so, you need medical attention. Contact your healthcare provider or call 911 immediately.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, try these six lifestyle changes to bring your numbers down.

  • Lose extra weight and watch your waistline.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a healthy, low-sodium, low-caffeine diet.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Take steps to reduce your stress.

To check your blood pressure and learn more ways to care for your heart, make an appointment today with a primary care provider at the Goshen Physicians Family Medicine location near you.