Under the new guidelines, tens of millions more Americans now meet the criteria for having high blood pressure.
A panel of the nation’s leading heart experts issued new blood pressure guidelines Nov. 13 that redefine for the first time in 14 years what constitutes high blood pressure.
Tens of millions more Americans now meet the criteria for having high blood pressure and must consider changing their lifestyles or taking medications — or both — to reach the lower levels considered safe. High blood pressure has been redefined as reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90, said Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and director of the Program on Prevention Outcomes and Practices at Stanford. He was one of the 21 experts who worked on developing the new guidelines. The project was jointly sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.
The new guidelines seek to reduce hypertension levels nationwide to improve public health. The condition can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and death if not detected early and treated appropriately, he said. Stafford, who underwent two kidney transplants and is an avid cyclist, is an advocate for physical activity as a means of helping to control blood pressure. He has lived with high blood pressure since his early 20s. As both a physician and a patient, he knows firsthand how complicated it can be to determine the best strategy for each person with high blood pressure.
Stafford spoke with writer Tracie White about why the new guidelines are important and how they can be implemented. He also wrote several posts about high blood pressure for the Scope blog.
Click here to learn more about hypertension and to make an appointment with one of our Stanford Health Care hypertension experts.
This Q&A first published in the Stanford Medicine News Center on November 16, 2017.