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New Blood Pressure Guidelines Issued

separator If you’re under the impression your blood pressure is normal, you may have to check again. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has issued new guidelines that change the numbers at which individuals are considered normal. And if you’re taking medication for high blood pressure already, it’s possible that your doctor will recommend that you take an additional drug.

Previously, a reading of 120 over 80 or lower was considered “optimal,” and levels of 130 over 85 were normal. Now, the new guidelines state that normal blood pressure must be under 120 over 80. From 120 over 80 up to 140 over 90 is now considered “pre-hypertensive.” High blood pressure is considered 140 over 90, and that hasn’t changed.

People in the “pre-hypertension” category are likely not to need medication, but to be advised to lose weight, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet low in salt and to limit alcohol.

The NHLBI has changed the guidelines because of study results showing that heart disease begins at hypertension levels lower than previously thought.

Journal of the American Medical Association, 14 May 2003 (early on-line release).
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