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New Blood Pressure Guidelines as of November 2017

Current Blood Pressure Guidelines

As of November 13, 2017, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other health organizations changed the guidelines as to what doctors….and you, should consider normal numbers for high blood pressure.

What Blood Pressure Guidelines Changed?

The numbers are changed, and one category was even eliminated.  There is no longer a category of pre-hypertension which used to have numbers of systolic 120 – 139, and diastolic 80 – 89.

When you take your blood pressure, here is a guideline as to what to look for, as well as when you should start taking more blood-pressure-lowering action vs more urgent action.

2017 Blood Pressure Guidelines

You may note that on each category, the AND or the OR is in caps. This is because when taking blood pressure if even one number is higher than it should be, it is important to note and to take action.

The action could depend on how high it is, and if you've been to a doctor before and what he/she has told you, or if you are having other symptoms, and/or simply some natural remedies.

If you're not sure what to do, the safest action would be to check with either the doctor, hospital or 911, depending on your circumstances.

Change in Blood Pressure Recommendation by Age

In addition to eliminating the pre-hypertension category, the new 2017 guidelines no longer differentiate the recommendations according to age. 

Previously, people younger than 65 had different recommendations than those above 65 years old. Now when you hit that magical age of 65, it's just another number, and your blood pressure recommendation remains the same as when you were 64 or younger. 

What a concept! 

The reason is that SPRINT, the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial where the new recommendations were formed, didn't separate the people in the trial according to their age.

Why the Changes?

To be honest, when I first saw these new blood pressure guideline changes, I thought it was simply the medical community had found a new way to push more medicine on us. Because you KNOW how I feel about taking medicine if it's not necessary.

But on second thought, what those scientists are doing is actually a preventive catastrophe in a person's life.

Because high blood pressure does damage to your body's veins and arteries as well as organs such as the kidneys, putting you and your doctor on alert about rising blood pressure issues can get you on the path to lowering those blood pressure numbers.

This could very easily be helpful in preventing other health problems…..especially a stroke or heart attack!

As Paul K. Whelton, M.B., M.D., M.Sc said, " If you're only going to focus on events, that ignores the process when it's beginning. Risk is already going up as you get into your 40's.

Dr. Whelton is the lead author of the guidelines published in the American Heart Association Journal, "Hypertension," and the "Journal of the American College of Cardiology."

Here is a video of Dr. Whelton speaking on the subject:

What's That….We're Supposed to Use a Home Blood Pressure Monitor?

Another part of the new blood pressure guidelines stresses how important it is for home blood pressure monitoring.  This will help reveal to doctors both white-coat hypertension and masked hypertension.

I don't know about you, but white-coat hypertension is not new to me. This is when you are nervous at the doctor, which causes your blood pressure to rise. The doctor sees that number and might think that you have high blood pressure.

The masked hypertension is something I have never heard of. It is when your blood pressure is actually good at the doctor, but when you get home your blood pressure rises. This is actually more dangerous because the doctor thinks that you are ok, when you actually are not.

Prescription Medicine Procedure Change

Yet another change is that for Stage One Hypertension (numbers between 130-139 / 80-89), medicine should only be prescribed when someone has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke or is at high risk of either.

What  Else Can You Do?

While most of the time, there are no symptoms when your blood pressure is high or on the rise, do listen to your body.

In a lot of blood pressure articles, it states that with high blood pressure you generally don't get headaches until your pressure is really high. Especially when you have a headache like you have not had before, call 911.

oatmeal...a tool to help you lower your blood pressure and to just enjoyPersonally, I've learned that when I have a headache and it's not from not enough caffeine (you know, cutting back on soda,) I should check my blood pressure.

Headaches for me don't usually happen often, but at times, my blood pressure numbers will be going up, and I can take preventive measures. Life does happen, after all!

My favorite is having a bowl of oatmeal complete with cinnamon & raisins, and well….you probably will think I'm nuts, but turmeric & black pepper. The turmeric is a HUGE anti-inflammatory, and black pepper works with the turmeric to help it absorb better.

All in all, the new blood pressure guidelines are a good thing.

All that being said, please keep in mind that the information here is not meant to replace your doctor's recommendations or another medically-trained person's advice.


American College of Cardiology, New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure  Guidelines, Lower Definition of Hypertension, November 17, 2017,  https://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/articles/2017/11/08/11/47/mon-5pm-bp-guideline-aha-2017

Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. Reading the New Blood Pressure Guidelines. November 16, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/reading-the-new-blood-pressure-guidelines