Former U.Va. medical school dean helps redefine high blood pressure

Dr. Robert Carey, co-chair of the Hypertension Guidelines Writing Group of the American Heart Association and former dean of the University’s School of Medicine, recently helped redefine the guideline for high blood pressure. Previously, blood pressure readings greater than 140/90 were considered high. However, after further evaluation, the American Heart Association agreed that a reading of 130/80 would be the new cutoff for diagnosing high blood pressure. 

“We had the new information that if you have blood pressure that was in the pre-hypertensive range according to the last comprehensive guideline in 2003, you still had a two fold increase in risk of heart attack, stroke and death,” Carey said. “So we needed to reexamine and reassess what we are calling high blood pressure.”

Dr. Hemly Siragy, a professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and member of the Cardiovascular Research Center at the U.Va. Health System, said that normal blood pressure is considered a reading of 120/80. He said that readings over this value fall into the following categories — elevated blood pressure, stage 1 hypertension, stage 2 hypertension or hypertensive crises.

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