May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, which makes it the perfect time to get up to speed on the new high blood pressure guidelines. The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) recently announced them. These guidelines lower the definition of high blood pressure to account for complications that can occur at lower numbers and allow for earlier intervention.

Did you know measuring blood pressure in both arms may reveal a higher heart attack risk? A difference of 10 points or more means a 38% greater chance of having a heart attack.

Blood pressure categories in the new guidelines are as follows:

  • Normal: Systolic less than 120 and diastolic less than 80
  • Elevated: Systolic 120 to 129 and diastolic less than 80
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1: Systolic 130 to 139 or diastolic 80 to 89
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2: Systolic 140 or higher or diastolic 90 or higher
  • Hypertensive Crisis (consult your doctor immediately): Systolic higher than 180 and/or diastolic higher than 120

“New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension,” American College of Cardiology,, Nov. 13, 2017.