Half of Americans Have High Blood Pressure, after New Guidelines

Millions of Americans Just Got High Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a long-term health problem that increases* the risk of cardiovascular diseases and events like stroke and heart attack. High blood pressure is usually asymptomatic, but some people may experience symptoms[1] such as headache, fatigue or confusion, chest pain, blood in urine, irregular heartbeat, and vision problems. According to the latest guidelines released by the American Heart Association you probably have high blood pressure too, just like millions of Americans. Scroll down to find out more.

New High Blood Pressure Guidelines

On Monday, November 13, the American Heart Association (AHA) released new hypertension guidelines which increased the number of people with high blood pressure by several million. The latest guidelines dictate that high blood pressure should be treated at 130/80 rather than 140/90.

The new set of guidelines was created by scientists at the AHA, American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations.

Researchers explain that general public will find these recent recommendations shocking primarily because 130/80 has been considered as a normal blood pressure for quite some time.

Basically, 50% of men in the United States and 38% of adult women have high blood pressure, according to these guidelines, published in the latest issue of Hypertension[2]. Based on a prior set of recommendations, one in three Americans had hypertension, but the latest rules involve a larger group of people and increase* the total number of individuals with high blood pressure by 14%.

More precisely, as of November 13, about 103.3 million people in the United States have high blood pressure, which is a significant rise compared to 72.2 million Americans whose blood pressure was defined according to previous guidelines.

Blood Pressure

What Is Normal Blood Pressure Now?

After the American Heart Association announced[3] that blood pressure range which was considered normal is now defined is high, it’s natural to wonder about healthy blood pressure now. Based on new guidelines, your blood pressure is considered health if it’s less than 120/80.

When the first number (systolic pressure) is between 130 and 139 and the second number (diastolic pressure) falls between 80 and 89, a person is considered to have stage 1 hypertension. A more severe form of high blood pressure, stage 2 hypertension, occurs when systolic pressure is 140 or higher and diastolic at least 90.

It is also important to mention that the latest guidelines[4] eliminate* prehypertension category. A systolic pressure between 120 and 139 and diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 was considered normal before, but close to high pressure. The new set of recommendations eliminates* this category and defines everything above 130/80 as hypertension.

Doctors and researchers who created the new high blood pressure definition say these guidelines will benefit younger population the most. Today, an increasing* number of people is overweight or obese and they face multiple health concerns including diabetes, hypertension, higher cardiovascular disease risk, cancer and many others. Hypertension is a common occurrence among overweight individuals and it paves the way to more complications. These new rules are meant to inspire people to adopt healthy lifestyle habits in order to keep their blood pressure within a healthy range and avoid more severe consequences.

It is also important to mention that about 30% of people with stage 1 hypertension won’t have to take medications, but lifestyle modification will be recommended in their case. Medications will be recommended to individuals whose blood pressure[5] is 140/90, similar to the current situation.


According to the latest hypertension guidelines, about 103 million Americans have high blood pressure compared to 72 million during prior blood pressure recommendations. Although researchers classify 130/80, what used to be normal blood pressure, as hypertension about 30% of people won’t need drugs to manage this problem, lifestyle adjustments are crucial.

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Contributor : Dr. Ahmed Zayed (Consumer Health Digest)

This Article Has Been Published on December 5, 2017 and Last Modified on August 14, 2018

Dr. Ahmed Zayed Helmy holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. He has completed his degree in 2011 at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. Other than his passion for writing, currently he is working as a Plastic surgeon and is doing his masters at Ain Shams University. You can connect with him on Linkedin.

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