A doctor measures the blood pressure of a man in a blue short-sleeve shirt, in accordance with the new blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association.
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Blood pressure guidelines and hypertension

Did you know that about 46% of all Americans are considered hypertensive?

The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) guidelines classify the limits of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

The cutoffs for hypertension are a systolic number of 130 and a diastolic number of 80 (or 130/80).

From the ACC, here are the blood pressure guidelines:

  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
  • Elevated: A top number between 120-129 and bottom number less than 80
  • Stage 1: Top of 130-139 or bottom between 80-89
  • Stage 2: Top at least 140 or bottom at least 90
  • Hypertensive crisis: Top over 180 and/or bottom over 120. This requires immediate medical attention and, possibly, hospitalization

What if I’m considered hypertensive?

If you’re saying to yourself, “Uh oh. Suddenly, I’ve got high blood pressure,” don’t stress. The good news is that most people who fall into this elevated level probably don’t need medication.

In fact, the blood pressure guidelines suggest that if you’re hypertensive, you only need to consider medication if you’ve already had a stroke or heart attack. (Or if your doctor thinks you’re likely to have a stroke or heart attack.)

Instead, you should lower your blood pressure naturally by changing your diet, exercise, and lifestyle.

And remember, you don’t need to bulk up in a gym. Walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming are considered some of the best ways to lower blood pressure.

Now for food. Start by noting or cutting back on your sodium intake. You may also consider increasing your potassium through whole fruits and vegetables.

If you’re looking for inspiration, see if your employer offers programs to track your food and steps. Research shows that tracking your steps increases physical activity by more than 26%!

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