With Stricter Guidelines, Do You Have High Blood Pressure Now

You may not have had high blood pressure Sunday, but you may have it today. Even if your blood pressure hasn’t changed a smidge. What’s up?

The rules shifted Monday. It used to be that we encouraged people to adopt healthy behavior to keep their blood pressure down but didn’t label someone as having hypertension until systolic blood pressure (the top number) exceeded 140 millimeters of mercury and/or the diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) exceeded 90 mm Hg. Lots of people watch those numbers closely.

Now the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have updated blood pressure guidelines that move the goal post for many people.

If you have heart disease, chronic kidney disease or diabetes, then your target now for systolic blood pressure has moved down to 130 and for diastolic blood pressure to 80. Same goes if your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke is greater than 10 percent (determined by a calculator found here).

The focus on people who have a high likelihood of heart disease and stroke is an effort to maximize the health gains from risk reduction.

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