HealthDay News — New guidelines lower the diagnostic threshold for stage 1 hypertension to 130/80, down from the previous level of 140/90, according to a joint statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC). The two organizations announced the new guidelines Nov. 13 at the AHA’s Scientific Sessions, being held Nov. 11 to 15 in Anaheim, California.

The US government in 2013 asked the AHA and ACC to draft new guidelines for blood pressure management, said ACC President Mary Walsh, MD, of Heart Failure and Cardiac Transplantation at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana. The new guidelines are the product of a 21-member committee, following a 3-year review of medical evidence that included more than 900 studies, said Paul Whelton, MD, chair of the 2017 Hypertension Practice Guidelines and a professor at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. The studies were reviewed by 52 experts who submitted close to 1,000 questions and approved by 11 partnering medical organizations.

This change means that 103 million Americans, or about 46% of the adult population, will be considered to have hypertension, Whelton said. The impact of the new guidelines is expected to be greatest among younger people. Hypertension is expected to triple among men under age 45 and double among women under 45, according to the guidelines report.

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The latest evidence has proven that people with blood pressure in the 130-139 range carry a doubled risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure and kidney failure compared to those with lower blood pressure, said clinical guidelines task force member Joaquin Cigarroa, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. 

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Previously, those people were considered to have prehypertension. “By incorporating the latest science, we recognize the risk is doubled,” Cigarroa said. “This now allows 14% of our population to understand that’s a call to action. We have to empower them with the tools to make a difference.”


Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults [published online November 2017]. J Am Coll Cardiol. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2017.11.006