Cedars-Sinai Magazine

Raising the Blood Pressure Bar

We all want to keep our hearts happy, and this vital organ is most content when blood pressure is in the normal range. Hitting that mark, however, got tougher last fall when new guidelines were announced by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. The new rules mean nearly half of adults in the U.S. need to lower their blood pressure. Whatever your numbers, everyone should take heart-smart steps. Here’s what our experts suggest.

Normal Blood Pressure

≤120/80

Great, your blood pressure is normal.

“Even if you’re in the normal range, it can’t hurt to lower your numbers. You can have a significant impact just through changing your diet, losing weight and exercising. Then stick to those healthy habits, or your blood pressure easily can increase.”

Michelle Kittleson, MD, PhD
Cardiologist, Cedars-Sinai Health Associates, Smidt Heart Institute

Stage 1 High Blood Pressure

130-139/80-89

a decrease from the previous guideline of 140/90


New guidelines put you in high blood pressure territory.

“Consider this a wake-up call. It’s a good time to talk with your doctor and come up with a game plan to reduce your blood pressure. Don’t assume you’ll be prescribed medication. Lifestyle factors have a tremendous impact on blood pressure.”

Colleen Ryan, MD
Family Physician, Cedars-Sinai

Stage 2 High Blood Pressure

≥140/90

You already have high blood pressure.

“If you are currently being treated, have a conversation with your physician about setting a new blood pressure goal in light of the revised guidelines. You should be aiming to be under 130 [top number]. I’m also an advocate of home blood-pressure monitoring. Ask if you should check your blood pressure a few times every week, and show those readings to your doctor.” 

David Seto, PharmD
Pharmacist, Cedars-Sinai