Last fall, the American Heart Association modified its blood pressure guidelines.
Rhonda J. Zonoozi, BS, CHWC, EP-C, an exercise physiologist and health coach for the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing, says according to the new guidelines, a normal systolic reading is still less than 120 and a normal diastolic reading is less than 80. However, elevated blood pressure is now defined as consistent readings of 120-129 systolic over less than 80 diastolic, and high blood pressure stage 1 is 130-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic.
High blood pressure, stage 2 involves a reading of 140 or higher or 90 or higher, and a hypertensive crisis is defined as higher than 180 and/or higher than 120.
“In the previous categories there was one called ‘pre-hypertension’—a key change is that this is now called ‘elevated,’ ” Rhonda notes.
While some may be concerned that the new guidelines may result in an increase in the number of people taking blood pressure medicine, Rhonda says this is not necessarily the case.
“The lower classification of hypertension and new categories are designed to help people become aware of their risk sooner. Physicians will still want to assess the risk of developing cardiovascular disease over the next 10 years, and those individuals with elevated or stage 1 hypertension that are otherwise healthy should start with lifestyle changes to reduce their blood pressure,” she says.
Monthly blood pressure checks are offered at the Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing.
Rhonda will present a class called “Get the Facts about High Blood Pressure” from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20. Registration is required to attend this class.