New Blood Pressure Guidelines

Friday, March 16, 2018

The American Heart Association recently announced new guidelines for blood pressure, the first change made in over 14 years. Their new, lowered threshold for a diagnosis of hypertension will likely affect a large number of people. 



  • Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
  • Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80;
  • Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
  • Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
  • Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.



Hypertension is an important risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A 20 mm Hg higher systolic blood pressure and 10 mm Hg higher diastolic blood pressure are each associated with a doubling in the risk of death from stroke, heart disease, or other vascular diseases. It is estimated that approximately 46% of the population will now have a diagnosis of elevated blood pressure or hypertension, and the greatest impact is expected to be among men and women younger than 45 years old.



Primary lifestyle strategies to reduce blood pressure should include:

  • Working toward a healthier weight for those who are overweight or obese
  • Increasing physical activity to at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity on several days each week, with a goal of 150 minutes/week total, plus 2 days of strength training exercises each week
  • Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men
  • Limiting sodium to less than 2400 mg/day by reducing processed foods and added salt


Need help making those lifestyle changes? We're here for you!
We employ personal trainers that can assist you with upping your workout routine. The Y also has relationships with Registered Dieticians who can help coach you on more nutritious eating habits.