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The American Heart Association Issues New Hypertension Guidelines

In November 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) in partnership with the American College of Cardiology (ACC) issued new guidelines that lowered the definition of high blood pressure. Referred to as the 2017 Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults, this comprehensive set of guidelines was released to account for complications that can occur at lower blood pressure numbers and allow for earlier intervention.

Key Takeaways

Since 2003, hypertension was classified as a blood pressure (BP) reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. However, the 2017 guidelines lower these thresholds to lessen the risk of heart disease and stroke. The new AHA/ACC blood pressure categories are as follows:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 mm Hg or diastolic between 80-89 mm Hg
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 mm Hg or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
  • Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic over 180 mm Hg and/or diastolic over 120 mm Hg


What the New Guidelines Mean for You

Under these new guidelines and definitions, approximately 46% of the U.S. adult population are considered to have high blood pressure. Of this percentage, the younger population will notice the greatest impact. But while having high blood pressure may double the risk of cardiovascular complications, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need medication. Instead, it’s recommended for many patients to work on lowering their blood pressure using non-drug approaches, such as regular exercise, better nutrition and other healthy lifestyle changes.

Learn More about the AHA/ACC Guidelines

Determine your blood pressure numbers and learn more about blood pressure management by scheduling a primary care appointment at the Carthage Family Health Center. For further inquiries, contact us today