ANAHEIM, Cal. – In the first update to comprehensive U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003, high blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement. That is a change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher, reflecting complications that can occur at those lower numbers.
The new guidelines were developed by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations. In lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend high blood pressure be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication.
Rather than 1 in 3 U.S. adults having high blood pressure (32 percent) with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (46 percent) having high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, there will only be a small increase in the number of U.S. adults who will require antihypertensive medication, authors said. The new guidelines are designed to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.