Nov 13, 2017, 4:44 PM ET

More than 103 million Americans will have high blood pressure under new guidelines


The American Heart Association has changed the definition of hypertension for the first time in 14 years, moving the number from the old standard of 140/90 to the newly revised 130/80.

The change is outlined in the American Heart Association 2017 Hypertension Practice Guidelines, an extensive report by experts without relevant ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

The changes are expected to drastically impact adult Americans: revising the hypertension threshold downward will increase the percent of U.S. adults living with high blood pressure from 32 percent to 46 percent -- nearly half of the adult population. It will also disproportionately affect younger people by tripling the number of men under 45 and doubling the number of women under 45 with the diagnosis.

PHOTO: The American Heart Association has changed the definition of hypertension for the first time in 14 years, moving the number from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg. American Heart Association
The American Heart Association has changed the definition of "hypertension" for the first time in 14 years, moving the number from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.

The new guidelines reflect years of research, which have shown that people within the new range of blood pressure defined as hypertension have doubled their risk of cardiovascular problems in the future, such as heart attacks or strokes. As such, health care professionals should be identifying these patients and helping to initiate interventions to bring down blood pressure.

While the new guidelines significantly increase the number of Americans with a diagnosis of hypertension, they do not suggest a proportionate increase in treating with medication. The number of Americans with hypertension who are recommended for medical treatment would increase by only 4.2 million adults, or 5 percent more than were previously recommended. Medication will be recommended for patients with previous cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, or significant cardiovascular risk factors determined by factors such as age, blood tests and having other medical conditions that increase risk of heart attack.

The study authors recommend lifestyle changes, including exercise, diet modifications and weight loss, as the first step to reducing high blood pressure.

PHOTO: The American Heart Association has changed the definition of hypertension for the first time in 14 years, moving the number from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg. Getty Images
The American Heart Association has changed the definition of "hypertension" for the first time in 14 years, moving the number from 140/90 mm Hg to 130/80 mm Hg.

Doctors in the guidelines stress the importance of using two separate blood pressure readings on two different occasions to diagnose hypertension. They recommend that those with hypertension use approved blood pressure monitors at home. Writing down these readings at home can help tell the difference between people with truly abnormal blood pressure and those with “white-coat syndrome” -- with high blood pressure only under stress like at the doctor’s office.

High blood pressure increases the risk of cardiac problems and strokes, and is sometimes called “the silent killer” because so many adults live with high blood pressure and don’t know it.

To help understand the new hypertension guidelines and how they affect managing your health, see your healthcare professional.

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  • Guthrum

    Another round of increases in tests, medications, and doctor visits. This translates into an increase in health insurance costs.

  • Omegacron

    LOL the companies that make blood pressure pills are uncorking the champagne

  • Rubber Banned

    This is my BP WITH meds and my doc and I are just fine with it. Any more medication and I'll pass out.

  • Karla Gabel

    What a JOKE! The AHA never met a dollar from BIG PHARMA it didn't like. I'll keep eating my LCHF diet (at least 60% fat, most saturated), with lots of meat, eggs, butter, and the dreaded COCONUT OIL! Somehow, I made it to 52 with perfect BP and cholesterol levels (and no drugs). Pffft!

  • JuPMod

    I really do not believe these guidelines. Last month, I came out of the hospital due to very high blood pressure (200+), yet now, I got it back down to a reasonable level around 120's. Yet now they say that even 120 to 150 is bad? I call BS on this, given I really do not want to spend more time in the hospital due to these new guidelines. Sounds like a means to make more money off the people.

  • ShawnLetwin

    Pretty sure the 5% expected increase will not meet Wall Street expectations for shareholder return. Pharma will need to increase the sales of BP meds higher than 5%. Can hardly wait for the new tv ads and print ads to come out and drive the consumer demand for more meds higher.

  • boyscout

    To me this is just another result of some lobby influencing the government to get us into our doctors offices and hospitals to give us more pills to be on. We are money based at our core in this current society and everything is directed to increasing someones income (generally at our expense). It is becoming harder to get actual honest facts about anything.$$$$$$$$$$

  • E Douglas Howell

    And insurance rates for everybody just went up.

  • disqus_yLpGsRtEdv

    This has me so worried, I need my Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast like, right now!

  • ToothyGrinn

    Hospital profits will soar..... HURRAH !!!

  • Sam

    Great!! Another preexisting condition to raise the cost of healthcare.

  • muttonchops

    What happened to the old 120/80 BP.

  • turtlemouth

    "Is there a hypertension health crisis? Doctors say no but pharmaceutical companies say yes."

    It's weird how I usually have high readings at one doctor's office but normal readings at another.

  • Tony Bluegoat

    New Breakthrough Statins for Fetuses and High Blood Pressure Medication for your dog. It turns out that fetus hearts beat too fast and we are lowering the A1C diabetic threshold to 7. Your cat has diabetes and white bread has been proven to give you brain cancer. But wait! There's a pill for that.

    "Are you a baby boomer? Do you have health insurance with a drug benefit? Then do we have the disease for you! Gulliblitus! You mock your politicians, and don't let your children go on a camp-out with your Priest. But you still believe your doctor! So ask your doctor about new Idio-10 the new wonder drug for Gulliblitus. Side effects include falling down (real side effect for Statins), Kidney failure (real side effect for diabetes med) and poverty (real side effect of $800 per month health insurance premiums.)

  • George Glass

    If you don’t have high blood pressure these days, you aren’t paying attention

  • SpringForward

    New guidelines for Healthcare: Dump Trump

  • Richard Johnson

    Those of you saying this is about higher profits for drug manufacturers can't read: "The study authors recommend lifestyle changes, including exercise, diet modifications and weight loss, as the first step to reducing high blood pressure."

    However, I do agree that the risk is overblown.

  • redsquirrel1

    Sell more medication, stockholders happy with artificially inflated statistics. Big Pharma makes its medical puppets dance and once again American s function as cash cows.

  • StillThatSameGuy

    Oh, cool. So basically everyone over 35 will now need blood pressure medication.
    Wonder which drug company convinced them to lower it?
    EDIT: Anyone from other countries that can comment on this?

  • Mike Hogan

    I believe these bp numbers as much as I believe Roy Moore. ZERO! However, I have a secret. Beet root juice. 12 oz mixed with water in a glass put in the fridge overnight --- glug it first thing each morning. 100 over 60. Check it out on Mayo Clinic site.

  • GruntDoc68

    You can bet big Pharm is behind this so they can sell more chemical pills. This is a pathetic joke of big corporations to sell more of their poisons. Watch enough commercials and even if you are really healthy they will try and convince you that you are sick. Look how they fight against pot because they don't make any money on a natural product. They don't care if they kill you as long as you take their chemicals and raise their profit margin. is good for you...oh it is bad for you....alcohol can be good for you...oh wait...that's is bad for you. Eat eggs...nope...don't eat eggs....
    Corporations will try to convince anyone of anything if they can make a buck.

  • j penske

    What a bunch of crap, it's all for pharma. This article says the "experts" aren't related to pharma, yeah right !!! Hopefully, your doc will be the judge of what hypertension is. I measured 138/85 one time and my doc said I was fine, it's all in the individual. Completely disagree with the new numbers. If you're in the 120's/low 80's, you should be perfectly fine. If you're in the 140's to low 150's constantly, then you need to look at it more closely and possibly be under a low dose med.

  • Pam

    I totally don't believe this at all. I believe it's just another way to generate more revenue for pharmaceutical industry.

  • mnstar

    Good for big Pharma.

  • John B Smythe

    Just this morning I had a doctors appointment. While waiting, 3 different (young, good-looking, well-dressed) drug reps came in. They are welcomed into the back office bring hot breakfasts, containers of Starbucks coffee, etc... It made me sick to watch. Why is this NOT ILLEGAL!? We consume something like 75% of the worlds Pharmaceuticals!

  • abcdefgqwerty

    lets just raise the guidelines more, and make every american have high blood pressure.

  • Zdenek Tesar

    American Heart Association is obviously in cahoots with the big pharma. In several European countries such blood pressure would be termed as 'elevated'.

  • jschm

    Buy the blood pressure drug stocks.

  • JR

    Many bp meds have a strong anticholinergic effect on the brain. Extended exposure to these drugs are thought to increase chances of dementia.

  • JR

    Sounds like the new HHS secretary nominee is hitting the ground running.

  • Jeremiah Phoenixx

    Lol! Time to make some more:

    Bumetanide (Bumex)

    Chlorthalidone (Hygroton)

    Chlorothiazide (Diuril)

    Ethacrynate (Edecrin)

    Furosemide (Lasix)

    Hydrochlorothiazide HCTZ (Esidrix, Hydrodiuril, Microzide)

    Indapamide (Lozol)

    Methyclothiazide (Enduron)

    Metolazone (Mykroz, Zaroxolyn)

    Torsemide (Demadex)

  • propcontrol

    Big pharma runs the show!

  • MauiOhana808

    How about instead of changing the blood pressure metrics just ask the following question:
    1. Never eat fast food,.........................blood pressure probably good!
    2. Eat fast food once a month............blood pressure probably OK!
    3. More than three times a week........blood pressure probably not good!
    4. Every day in the week.....................blood pressure making the veins pop out of your head!!!!!!
    Aloha : D

  • wygent

    So the drug companies win again. I am so disgusted with the AHA for allowing themselves to be used in this manner. The market for statins had begun to shrink because the public was beginning to understand that they were vastly overprescribed. Now, contrary to the rhetoric being mouthed in this press release, we will see even more pressure on doctors to prescribe drugs to lower blood pressure, control LDL and otherwise make the drug companies even richer. This is truly disgusting.

  • Joseph Wilson

    Another way to raise life and health inuance rates once it on file that you have high blood pressure they'll raise your rates

  • Nathan Broussard

    last time I went to the doctor he couldn't hear my blood pressure with his stetho thingy, he tried first one arm then the other.............I even grabbed the end of the stetho thingy and blew on it to check to see if his hearing was working, obviously both he and I could determine I was still alive because I was speaking to him finally he grew flabbergasted with me he called in his assistant, it took her a while too because she had to keep pumping the dohickey on the arm cuff..........I made the decision to stop going to the doctor, that was five years ago and I never felt more fine, I have saved a fortune in lab fees, medication and office visit copays. Besides if someone more important than myself wants to cancel me out like a postage stamp, who am I to argue with it.

  • Kokomo Joe

    Big pharma speaks, AHA jumps. This new standard will pour millions of dollars into pharma pockets.

  • Travis Anderson

    So my anatomy and physiology professor always to me that "normal" BP is 120/80, and that is "textbook normal" now, he also would say, who's to say what is normal for everyone? I whole heartedly agree. I am over weight by the BMI scale, and my blood pressure runs 110/60 all the time and they are swearing that I have "low" blood pressure.

  • Joseph15

    Biggest scam since the AHA lowered the magic number for statins to 200.

    Sadly for Big Pharma, statins are now generic. But they keep sending millions to the AHA, and voila! Blood pressure lowered to 130/80, snaring 30 million more Americans.

    It is a disgrace.

  • 40words

    A lot of folks are going to lose trust in the medical community, which is becoming more of an assembly-line business with each day.

  • TB

    This is total BS...the only reason they are doing this is to pump more money into big Pharma.

  • NellieMaes

    I call BS.

  • ranknfile

    What a strategy.

  • ceptic

    Legalize Cannabis!!! Happier people =Less Stress.

  • ricwhite

    As a 150 lb. lean male who exercises regularly and eats well, I'm at 130/90 and that's WITH medication. I can never average 80 or below on the diastolic.

  • george

    What a damned game.

  • ricwhite

    Insurance premiums just went up by 10%.