Did you know that the guidelines for high blood pressure have changed? If you haven’t heard the details, it’s essential that you learn the new guidelines, because your level of risk may have increased. In fact, it’s estimated that almost half of the United States population will have high blood pressure under these new guidelines, and the most significant increase will be among younger people.
You can trust our experts at California Heart and Vein Specialists to help you understand and manage your blood pressure. But before you worry, and raise your blood pressure even more, let’s discuss the new guidelines so you have a clear picture of where you stand.
Why the change?
The new 2017 guidelines are the first update since 2003. Blood pressure ranges aren’t updated at specific time intervals, but rather when research shows that changing the ranges could save more lives by treating people earlier.
Where do you fall?
The new guidelines offer a bit more than just one set of numbers when finding your range. Now, there are several categories of hypertension to use for all adults, regardless of age.
Let’s take a look at the ranges here. Be sure when you review the ranges that you notice there are two numbers for each category: systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number). Also note whether the class requires just one or both numbers to be elevated.
Blood pressure categories:
Normal - Less than 120/80
Elevated - Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
Stage 1 - Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
Stage 2 - Systolic of at least 140 or diastolic of at least 90
Hypertensive crisis - Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120
Previous guidelines might have classified you as “prehypertensive,” however that category has been eliminated.
Other changes to the guidelines include prescribing medication for those with Stage 1 hypertension only if you fall into one of the below categories:
- You have a history of a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack or stroke.
- You’re at a high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, history of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or atherosclerosis, a condition of the arteries in which you have deposits of fat along the artery walls.
Many physicians have been prescribing more than one medication at a time to control blood pressure, and the new guidelines recognize that this might be a needed practice for some patients. In some cases, medication compliance may increase if multiple medications are combined into one pill.
Under the new guidelines, doctors may use your socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress levels when estimating your overall risk for high blood pressure.
The new guidelines recognize a phenomenon called “white-coat hypertension” that doctors have known about for years. When this happens, your blood pressure might be higher than usual when you’re at the doctor’s office. If your blood pressure readings are high at the office, they can be double checked by self-monitoring at home. If this confirms the diagnosis of hypertension, we can help you find the best level of medications.
If the new guidelines place you at a higher risk, no worries. Dr. Chane and our team of practitioners can help you manage your hypertension with diet, exercise, lifestyle modifications, and medications. We can also teach you how to self-monitor your blood pressure to provide an extra level of reassurance between visits.
Give us a call or book an appointment online so that we can help you better understand your blood pressure readings.