I am sure many of you have heard about the new American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for hypertension. In a nutshell, a BP of >=130/80 is sufficient to diagnose hypertension. Before running to your Family Physician asking for hypertension treatment, there is one important caveat to take note of: the cut off of >=130/80 is for out-of-office and self-monitoring, clinic/office cut off remains at 140/90. Besides, even if diagnosis of hypertension is confirmed, majority of the newly diagnosed hypertensives would be under the category of Stage 1 high blood pressure. For those people, only lifestyle modifications have to be made, medications are generally not needed.
The Ministry of Health has so far not adopted the new AHA guidelines. Locally, the cut off for diagnosing high blood pressure, whether out-of-office or clinic/office monitoring, remains at 140/90. However, this does not mean we should not be aiming for a lower blood pressure. This is because effects of blood pressure on health are a continuum, the lower the blood pressure, the lower the risk of adverse outcomes. Hence, whether or not the AHA guidelines are adopted locally, it will be beneficial for you to lead a healthy lifestyle that will lower your blood pressure.