What the new blood pressure guidelines mean for your health

What the new blood pressure guidelines mean for your health

In November 2017, the American Heart Association® updated the United States guidelines on high blood pressure detection and treatment. In honor of American Heart Month and National Wear Red Day®, Quest Diagnostics Health & Wellness wants to focus on the changes that were made to the guidelines for detection of high blood pressure, one of the main contributing factors to heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

What changed?

Prior to the changes in November, there was an additional stage: prehypertension (where the systolic blood pressure fell between 120 and 139, and diastolic blood pressure fell between 80 and 89). Prehypertension has been eliminated as a stage, leaving the following 5 categories for blood pressure guidelines:

Why did this change?
With the elimination of the prehypertension stage, high blood pressure is now defined as 130 or higher for systolic blood pressure or 80 or higher for diastolic blood pressure.

According to the American Heart Association, lowering the definition of high blood pressure gave way for the guidelines to recommend “earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.”1 Prior to the updates, an estimated one-third of American adults had high blood pressure, but under the new guidelines, nearly 50% will have the condition. The aim is to help those with high blood pressure catch the condition early, so it can be treated with lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, before medication is needed.

How will this affect blood pressure screening results moving forward?

Quest Diagnostics Health & Wellness has implemented the new blood pressure guidelines into Blueprint for Wellness reporting. With the ranges for normal blood pressure staying the same, there will not be any change to whether an individual had an in-range or out-of-range blood pressure reading. However, those individuals who fell in the prehypertension stage in 2017 (and previously) will see an update to their blood pressure category if they stay within the same range.

At the employer level, aggregate data may change based on these new guidelines, as more employees may fall into a hypertensive (high blood pressure) category. The American Heart Association anticipates that the prevalence of high blood pressure in the United States is expected to triple among males under age 45 and double among females under age 45 with the guideline changes.

If you are a Quest Diagnostics Health & Wellness client and have any questions regarding these changes in reference to your biometric screenings, please reach out to your account manager for more information.


American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology. “High blood pressure redefined for the first time in 14 years: 130 is the new high.” 13 Nov. 2017. Accessed on 22 Jan. 2018.

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