In 2017, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association changed the cutoff measurement for a diagnosis of high blood pressure from 140 mmHg over 90 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg. While the proportion of people who could be diagnosed with high blood pressure jumped from 32 percent to 48 percent under the new guidelines, most won’t have to take medication.
But the new guidelines do recommend blood pressure-lowering medication for all stroke survivors with blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg or higher, to be combined if necessary with additional drugs to reduce blood pressure below that level.
If doctors adopt these more aggressive guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure in stroke survivors, researchers calculate that:
Two-thirds as many stroke survivors will be diagnosed with hypertension and started on blood pressure medication
Nearly 54 percent of stroke survivors who already take hypertension medication will be prescribed additional medication to lower their blood pressure to the new, lower threshold
According to the AHA, this could result in one-third fewer deaths due to repeat strokes.
Bethany Hoffman is a Senior Editor for HealthCentral’s Cancer beat. She strives to reach health consumers on their own terms, empowering them to understand and act upon the health information that affects their lives so they can make effective, engaged choices. To do this, she is a passionate observer of how health, illness, and disability affect the human experience.