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    New Blood Pressure Guidelines

    Though it feels like just yesterday, 2003 was 14 years ago! In fact, children born in 2003 are now freshman in high school. It’s safe to say that much has changed since the days when Facebook wasn’t even a company. And now, the American Heart Association (AHA) seems to agree. Releasing its first major guideline updates since 2003, the AHA has “completely revamped the way both doctors and patients should look at high blood pressure.” 

    With about 34% of the U.S population currently affected, high blood pressure has become an entrenched public health concern in our country.

    In an effort to encourage physicians to identify patients at risk and intervene earlier, the AHA has “refined blood pressure cutoffs to much lower numbers.”

    Before: High blood pressure was characterized by a systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure greater than 90 mmHg.

    Now: Blood pressure is considered elevated if it is 120–129 mmHg over 80 mmHg or less. It’s considered high and labeled as Stage 1 hypertension if it’s 130–139 mmHg over 80–89 mmHg and Stage 2 hypertension if pressure is greater than 140 mmHg over 90 mmHg or more. If a patient’s blood pressure is greater than 180 mmHg and/or over 120 mmHg or more, it is considered a hypertensive crisis.

    The updated guidelines, which some say will now categorize up to 50% of Americans as having high blood pressure, should have a positive impact on care. These new guidelines allow physicians to suggest lifestyle changes and treatment plans earlier and potentially help prevent serious side effects caused by high blood pressure, such as heart attack and stroke.

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