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What New High Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean For You

New treatment guidelines from the American Heart Association lower the threshold for high blood pressure. Instead of 140/90 mmHg, it’s now 130/80.

“The new guidelines help better identify people who are at risk for cardiovascular disease and who need more aggressive therapy sooner,” says Andrew Sumner, MD, with LVPG Cardiology. When blood pressure – the force of blood against blood vessel walls – is consistently too high, it can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. Whether or not you have known high blood pressure, the new guidelines are a good reason for a checkup if you haven’t had one recently.

“To be proactive about your health, know your numbers,” Sumner says. “If your blood pressure is high in the doctor’s office, monitor it at home.”

  • Take blood pressure 2x day (once in morning; once in evening).

  • Do this twice a week for a month.

  • Keep a record and bring it to your doctor’s appointment.

If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, follow the lifestyle changes your doctor suggests, such as exercising 150 minutes per week, avoiding salt and limiting alcohol. Take any prescribed medication, if necessary, too. “To reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease, use the guidelines to get your blood pressure at goal,” Sumner says. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 while those with high blood pressure should be treated to less than 130/80.