Medical health fraternities around the world conduct several seminars all through the year.

In Anaheim at California, American Health Association, hosted its Annual Scientific Sessions. But this was no ordinary session.

Reason? This gathering was when the health fraternity changed the guidelines of Hypertension. It was a watershed moment in the medical history as 140/90 mm Hg was no longer high blood pressure.

Note : read the following data as: Blood Pressure Type/Systolic Blood Pressure/Diastolic Blood Pressure both measured in mm Hg

1) DESIRED RANGE: lower than 120/80 mm Hg

2) ELEVATED: 120-129/<80 mm Hg

3) STAGE 1 HYPERTENSION 120-129 /80-89 mm Hg

4) STAGE 2 HYPERTENSION: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg

5) CRISIS: >180/>120 mm Hg

Note: no reading on Hypotension or Low Blood Pressure issued

How is BP measured?

Human blood flows in veins and arteries. Blood flows under pressure due to pumping of blood by the cardiac (heart) muscles.

For diagnostic purpose, the pressure exerted by blood while flowing through arteries is of significance. This pressure is recorded with the help of Sphygmomanometer.

The upper reading is the systolic pressure, the pressure exerted on arteries when the heart is beating and diastolic pressure, the pressure exerted on arteries while heart rests between each beat.


Note : read the following data as: Blood Pressure Type/ Systolic Blood Pressure (mm Hg) / Diastolic Blood Pressure (mm Hg)

1) Low Blood Pressure : < 100 /< 60 mm Hg

2) Desired Range (normal / Physiological range): 100-120/ 80 mm Hg

3) Pre-hypertension: 120-139 80-89 mm Hg

4) Stage 1 Hypertension : 140-159 90-99 mm Hg

5) Stage 2 Hypertension: 160-179 100-109 mm Hg

6) Hypertensive urgency : > 180 > 110 mm Hg


This change in rating marks a huge paradigm shift for health care sector. Now one of every two American is hypertensive. This is especially worrying for First World Countries as it adds an additional burden on the health care sector. In several developing economies such as India, Health care workers, will now not just have to work towards eliminating epidemics, they will also have ensure the rise in sedentary lifestyle diseases are curbed .

It also highlights changes in health parameters through the years, while 130/85 was normal a decade earlier , but today it is high. Meaning we may have to change our lifestyle soon.

Apart from the parameters, changes have also been towards the prescribing methods.

Earlier medication could be prescribed if a person had Stage 1 hypertension (140-159 over 90-99 mm Hg), but now medication can be prescribed for a Stage 1 hypertension patient (120-129 over 80-89 mm Hg) if ‘a patient has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or is at high risk of a heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk’.

Doctors are also expected to recognise the need for multiple medications and treatment modalities including the usage of combination drugs.

Blog by Isheeta Bali

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