Chances are Good You Have High Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association updated its guidelines for high blood pressure threshold. They lowered the systolic BP from 140, which has been the standard for a long, long time, to 130. Now, about 1/2 of American adults have hypertension.

A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.

Elevated blood pressure is a systolic between 120-129.

Stage 1 Hypertension is a systolic between 130-139 and/or a diastolic between 80-90.

Why the change? 

It is not to put more people on meds, as the recommendation at Stage 1 hypertension, without other risk factors, would be lifestyle modification. The new guidelines are an attempt to promote transparency. Patients need to know that at stage 1 hypertension, where many people have lived complacently, the risk of heart attack is doubled.

The hope is people will act earlier to make positive choices to maintain a healthy blood pressure. These include everything you already know, but may not want to do:

  • eat a well-balanced healthy diet
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • drink only in moderation
  • exercise
  • don’t smoke
  • cut down on stress

Know your blood pressure. It can save your life. Of course, in addition to knowing it, you may have to do something about it.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness Coach. She helps clients with parenting issues, the challenges of college and young adulthood and issues related to health and habits. Email her at to learn more. She is the author of the Audible Original, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents.


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