New Blood Pressure Guidelines You Should Know

Is your blood pressure still “low”?

For decades, the cutoff for high blood pressure has been 140/90. But as of just recently, it’s 130/80—anything above, and you’re considered “hypertensive.” These new guidelines are based on a recent analysis of hundreds of scientific studies, published in November by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. The whole report is several hundred pages long, so we’ll give you the highlights. First, here are the new categories for blood pressure:

This means that many people out there might have high blood pressure and not know it—and that’s a problem, because hypertension greatly increases the risk for heart attack and stroke. If you fall into any of these categories (or if you’re not sure), you should of course talk with your doctor. In the meantime, the good news is that the new report also compiled and graded the evidence for things that you can do to keep your blood pressure low. Here they are, below, and you’ll notice that all of them received a “I” for COR, which is the class of recommendation, and an “A” for LOE, which is the level of evidence. This means that these are strongly recommended strategies, backed by lots of scientific evidence, for keeping blood pressure low—and they’re all things that you can do! Just check with your doctor first, of course.

Tom LaRocca

Tom LaRocca, Ph.D., is a research associate and instructor in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado Boulder.