Wanpen Vongpatanasin, guest columnist: New blood pressure guidelines stirring debate | Guest Columns

Do I have high blood pressure? It’s a question more people may be asking themselves after the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology released new guidelines that expanded the range for what’s considered high.

The change dropped the level at which a person is diagnosed with hypertension to 130/80 from 140/90, essentially adding about 30 million Americans to the ranks of those living with high blood pressure. (The top number reflects systolic blood pressure measured in arteries as the heart pumps blood, and the bottom indicates diastolic pressure when the heart is relaxed.)

Some doctors are concerned the lower threshold could lead to too many people being put on medication and the American Academy of Family Physicians has declined to endorse the new guidelines. However, the changes are a step in the right direction. They recognize our growing understanding of the risks of high blood pressure and why we shouldn’t manage hypertension through medical treatments alone.

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