NEW Blood Pressure Guidelines!

Hypertension is a leading risk factor for death and disability worldwide and directly related to developing a stroke and heart disease. Recently the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) provided new evidence based guidelines for providers and patients for the prevention, identification, and treatment of hypertension in adults. This is the first major change in the recommendations since 2003 and includes a new categorization for high blood pressure (BP) as well as lifestyle modification suggestions and drug treatment data.

Based on the research, the new guidelines adjust the hypertension stage ranges and replace the term “prehypertension” with “elevated BP”.  The prehypertension stage was re-classified as stage 1 because adults with blood pressure in this range have approximately a 2-fold increase in cardiovascular disease risk and more aggressively treating this hypertension is estimated to benefit patients.  According to the ACC and AHA, the overall changes in these blood pressure classifications are estimated to result in an increase of about 14% in the prevalence of hypertension in the U.S. but only a 1.9% increase in adults requiring drug therapy.



mm Hg

(upper number)


mm Hg

(lower number)


NORMAL Less than 120


Less than 80 Keep up good work!


Less than 80 Make lifestyle changes to control
STAGE 1-  High BP 130-139


80-89 Lifestyle changes + medication?
STAGE 2-  High BP 140 or higher


90 or higher Lifestyle changes + medication


Higher than 180


Higher than 120 Contact a Doctor or if you have with chest pain call 911!

The new guidelines also suggest that providers should establish patient blood pressure estimates with at least two readings taken on at least two different occasions. Out-of-office blood pressure measurements are also recommended to validate hypertension levels or identify ‘white coat’ or masked hypertension, and to help patients with appropriate medication dosing. So don’t be surprised if your physician wants to get a few extra blood pressure readings and additional tracking to confirm what stage you most accurately fit into for possible hypertension treatment.

Lifestyle modifications in conjunction with antihypertensive medication are also highlighted in the guidelines for effective blood pressure therapy. Patients with existing or increased risk for cardiovascular disease are recommended to do a combination of lifestyle changes and drug therapy. Top lifestyle modifications to discuss with your doctor include weight loss strategy, a heart healthy reduced sodium diet, potassium supplements, consistent physical activity or exercise program, and the avoidance or reduction in alcohol consumption.

The study also provides physicians with data and recommendations for medication treatment classes and options as related to patient risk, comorbidities, and blood pressure levels.  Medication options should be discussed with your provider to select the best option for meeting your blood pressure goals.  We hope that everyone will take a moment to review these new guidelines and discuss them with your doctor at your next annual physical or appointment so you can set appropriate blood pressure goals that will help you live a longer happier life!

-Dr. S. Garrett Seibold,

Power County Family Clinic, 208-226-1057