What Classifies as High Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the measurement of the strength at which your blood pushes against the walls of your blood vessels as it moves through the body. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a fairly common but sometimes serious condition. If left untreated, it can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, aneurysm, or other serious conditions. 

In 2018, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology announced a change to the guidelines for what classifies as high blood pressure. Previously, high blood pressure was classified as higher than 140/90. The revised guidelines classify high blood pressure as anything higher than 130/80. 

The new guidelines came from a 2017 study involving more than 9,000 adults age 50 and older. Each participant in the study had a top blood pressure number higher than 130 and at least one other risk factor for heart disease. The study treated patients with the goal of lowering their top number to 120 or less, which reduced the chance of heart attack, heart failure, and stroke over a three-year period. 

This change means that nearly half of adults in the United States have high blood pressure, with the percentage being even higher for men over the age of 55. But it also means that treatment guidelines have been revised to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in a larger number of people.

The previous guidelines for classification of high blood pressure included different numbers based on the patient’s age, but the revised guidelines apply to all ages, as the study did not differentiate treatment based on age. For men age 65 and older, the definition of high blood pressure changed from 150/80 to 130/80 based on the guidelines released in 2018. 

If your blood pressure was classified as normal before and is now classified as high, talk to your doctor about treatment options, which may include lifestyle changes or medication to reduce your blood pressure and your risk of other cardiovascular disease.

Concerned about your overall risk for cardiovascular disease? Contact the Oklahoma Heart Hospital today to schedule an appointment with one of our physicians.