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Updated Blood Pressure Guidelines: Where Do You Fall?

Updated Blood Pressure Guidelines: Where Do You Fall?

Updated Blood Pressure Guidelines: Where Do You Fall?


Dave Jobes, Ph.D.

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Did you know that now almost 50% of Americans are now classified as having high blood pressure (called hypertension or being hypertensive)? In late 2017, The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) updated the guidelines for what constitutes ‘high’ blood pressure (BP), the first such update since 2003 (Muntner et al., 2017) and the number is ~14% higher than previous guidelines.

Most people know that the standard 120/80 is considered normal BP, and that remains unchanged. Now, however, the classification for ‘high’ BP has shifted downward from 140/90 to 130/80. That change in definition is what accounts for the increase in hypertensive Americans. Note also that the ‘pre-hypertension’ category no longers exists because of this change.

Interestingly, while there is a large jump in the number of people being considered hypertensive, the study authors anticipate only a small percentage of Americans will need to go on anti-hypertensive medications (1.9%).

Here are the new BP categories so you can see where you fall:

  • 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.

Blood pressure So what does this mean for all of us? Should we panic if we now fall into another category? No, but it does mean you should more actively monitor your BP. These new guidelines are meant to highlight the importance of monitoring BP and understanding the link between high BP and cardiovascular disease. Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, close monitoring of BP, cholesterol levels, diet, and other factors (i.e., not smoking) should help slow the rise in deaths from heart disease and, hopefully, eventually reduce the number of cases overall.

One final note. Diet plays a critical role in controlling BP and it has been known for years that tea is one effective (and tasty!) method of naturally controlling blood pressure. Organic teas are devoid of pesticides and other impurities so are the ideal option if you are looking to incorporate tea into your daily routine. Combined with exercise, you are bound to experience some great health benefits!


  1. Muntner et al., 2017. Potential U.S. Population Impact of the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association High Blood Pressure Guideline. http://www.onlinejacc.org/content/accj/early/2017/11/01/j.jacc.2017.10.073.full.pdf

  2. CDC Heart Disease Facts: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm