Nearly half of U.S. adults now have high blood pressure, thanks to a new definition of what constitutes high: 130/80 is the new 140/90. That means that 103 million people — about 14% more than under the old definition — need to make diet and exercise changes and, in some cases, take medication to lower their risk of heart attack or stroke.
These new blood pressure guidelines, the first major update since 2003, were announced November 13 at the American Heart Association’s annual scientific sessions and published in Hypertension and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. “It’s very clear that lower is better,” said Paul Whelton of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, lead author of the guidelines, at a news conference. Previous studies have linked low blood pressure with low risk of cardiovascular disease. The updated recommendations “will improve the cardiovascular health of our adult community in the United States,” Whelton said.