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High Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure

06/25/2007

Question:

I went to a specialist for somthing different but she said that if my blood pressure was 140/90 or below would be ok blood pressure for me since I don`t have diabetes. But I was on one medication for my blood pressure and when it got to 140/90 my family doctor put me on another blood pressure medication. So I am now on two medications for high blood pressure. Which one is right?

Answer:

There is a lot of debate about what constitutes a "normal" or optimal blood pressure.  The current guidelines set 140/90 mmHg or greater as the definition of hypertension in otherwise healthy people.  For patients with additional health problems like diabetes or kidney disease, the limit is 130/80 mmHg.

However, there is a strong correlation between blood pressure and cardiovascular risk that start at 115 mmHg systolic.  Every 20 mmHg increase doubles cardiovascular mortality risk.  There is growing evidence (but not absolute proof), that 140/90 is too high a limit.  Many experts now recommend a blood pressure of 130/80 for otherwise healthy people, and 120/75 for patients with additional risk factors.

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Response by:

Max C Reif, MD Max C Reif, MD
Professor of Medicine
Director of Hypertension Section
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati