Raising the Blood Pressure Bar: Are Your Numbers Low Enough?

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blood pressure, hypertension, new guidelines

We all want to keep our hearts happy, and this vital organ is most content when your blood pressure is in the normal range. Hitting that mark, however, got 20 points tougher last year when new blood pressure guidelines were announced.

Which category are you in now?

  • Normal blood pressure has been lowered to under 120/80; 140/80 used to be considered normal
  • Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) is between 130 and 139 (top number) or between 80 and 89 (bottom number)
  • Stage 2 high blood pressure (severe hypertension) is at least 140 (top number) or at least 90 (bottom number)

Whichever category you’re in, everyone should take heart-smart steps. Here’s what our experts suggest:

Great, your blood pressure is normal

“Even if you’re in the normal range, aim to lower your numbers. You can have a significant impact just through leading a healthy lifestyle—changing your diet, losing weight, exercising. Then stick to that healthy lifestyle, or your blood pressure can easily increase.”

Dr. Michelle Kittleson
Cardiologist, Smidt Heart Institute

New guidelines put you in high blood pressure territory

“Consider this a wake-up call. It’s a good time to talk with your doctor and come up with a game plan to reduce your blood pressure. Don’t assume you’ll be prescribed medication. Lifestyle factors have a tremendous impact on blood pressure.”

Dr. Colleen Ryan
Family physician, Cedars-Sinai

You already had high blood pressure

“If you’re currently being treated, have a conversation with your physician about setting a new blood pressure goal in light of the revised guidelines. You should be aiming to be under 130 (top number). I’m also an advocate of home blood-pressure monitoring. Check your blood pressure a few times every week and show those readings to your doctor.”

David Seto, PharmD
Pharmacist, Cedars-Sinai

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