The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology have released new high blood pressure guidelines. These guidelines are more conservative, meaning they are hoping they allow for earlier intervention and increased prevention. They are also hoping to intervene in health complications that can occur at lower numbers. This is the first set of new guidelines since the comprehensive set established in 2003.
According to these new guidelines people with readings of 130 as systolic or 80 as diastolic are now considered to have high blood pressure. Previously, high blood pressure was defined as 140/90.
Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when the force of blood pushing against the vessel walls is too high. This added pressure causes the heart to work too hard and the blood vessels to function less effectively. Because many of the complications from high blood pressure do not have any symptoms until it is too late, it is often referred to as the "silent killer." High blood pressure is the leading cause of death worldwide.
Blood pressure categories in the new guidelines are:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80
- Stage 1 Hypertension: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89
- Stage 2 Hypertension: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg
- Hypertensive Crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120
At Klein Family Dental we take a blood pressure reading before every prophy appointment. We believe that because we see our patients every 6 months for their routine check-ups, we are in the perfect position to take regular blood pressure readings, and screen for any signs of this "silent killer" known as hypertension.