American Heart Association

Tips and Insights: How the New Hypertension Guidelines Impact Healthcare

Farmington, CT (December 8, 2017) – Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition often ignored because there is typically no pain and almost no overt symptoms. Dubbed the silent killer, for good reason, hypertension can subtly damage the body in a variety of ways and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure is a condition where the force of blood against the artery walls is increased to a point that may eventually cause additional health problems. Blood pressure is measured by comparing the maximum pressure your heart exerts while beating (systolic pressure) and the pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure). These numbers are represented in millimeters of mercury, or 120/80 mm Hg for example.

New research has prompted the American Heart Association (AHA) to reevaluate its previously defined hypertension guidelines. The AHA expects the new guidelines to have a positive impact on public health due to an emphasis on early intervention and refined treatment recommendations. The revised recommendations are based on a robust study published by the AHA and the American College of Cardiology.  

It is important to acknowledge the new guidelines to better diagnose and treat this serious condition. Envolve PeopleCare is taking steps to better serve our members as a result of these changes.

New Blood Pressure Categories

The guidelines increase the number of people who are now considered living with hypertension. According to the AHA, 46 percent of U.S. adults now have high blood pressure requiring medical attention, compared to 32 percent based on the old guidelines.

  • Normal:

    Anything less than 120/80 mm Hg is considered a normal blood pressure reading.

  • Elevated:

    Before the new guidelines, readings of 120/80 mm Hg to 139/89 mm Hg were considered pre-hypertension and suggested treatment included merely lifestyle changes such as increased exercise. According to the AHA, under the new guidelines, readings of 120–129/80 mm Hg are considered “elevated” and the concept of pre-hypertension no longer exists.

  • Stage 1 & 2:

    Stage 1 hypertension is now considered 130–139/80 mm Hg and stage 2 hypertension is considered 140/90 mm Hg.

  • Hypertensive Crisis:

    A hypertensive crisis is defined as a reading higher than 180/120 mm Hg and requires immediate medical intervention.

The AHA has also updated recommended changes in treatment for the specific categories. One healthy lifestyle change that is often recommended for those with elevated blood pressure readings is to try the DASH diet and engage in regular aerobic exercise. Regular reassessment is necessary to ensure positive change is occurring. Additional treatment updates and recommendations should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Earlier Treatment Designed to Improve Outcomes

With nearly invisible symptoms, hypertension was often identified too late in members. As blood pressure categories are updated and treatments are enhanced, proactive detection and treatment at an earlier stage will result in better health outcomes. 

Download the Hypertension Guidelines

Keep the new blood pressure guidelines handy.

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