Blog: Now there are 3 blood pressure targets – which is for you?

1. Why important to manage high blood pressure (BP)?

2. Why are there 3 different high blood pressure targets?

3. Next actions? to help you avoid heart diseases and strokes. 

[Time to read: 5 mins]

1. Why important to manage high blood pressure (BP)?

taking blood pressureA workshop of London community nurses told us that blood pressure is the single most important measure that indicates health, but is often poorly monitored. So regular measuring of it is needed. Younger people who get a high reading from their GP tend to ignore it, until at a later date they get ill.

#1 person in every 4 adults has high blood pressure (BP) over 140/90 mm Hg [ref. 32]. Now new USA research and reviews show “Stage 1 high blood pressure starts at 130/80“, and it needs action [35]. So as many as 1 in 3 people could have high blood pressure [37].

Health benefit? If you have high BP, and manage to reduce your systolic blood pressure (the higher figure) by 10 mm Hg, it almost cuts in half your chances of getting heart diseases, and helps you avoid strokes [32] and later dementia [43].

#Half those who have high BP are not receiving any treatment [33], and another 1 in 3 patients are not taking their pills often enough [28]. Often there are no clear symptoms of high BP, which is why it is called the “silent killer”.

#Are you one of 7 million UK people unaware they have high blood pressure? [asks British Heart Foundation].


Got 2 minutes? Watch BHF video of your own heart attack.


NHS says, “Ideal blood pressure is between 90/60 mm Hg and 120/80 mm Hg”.

2. Why are there 3 different high blood pressure targets?

2.1 If your readings are over 130/80, a new USA guideline from the American Heart Association & American College of Cardiology (Nov. 2017) says, after analysing 1000 recent studies, inc. SPRINT 2015 [37], “this is Stage 1 hypertension” (high blood pressure), and it needs action [35].

2.2 NHS NICE has changed its UK guideline on Hypertension in adults: diagnosis and management [NG136, after the new USA findings. It suggests that treatment be offered to patients under the age of 80 years with a diagnosis of stage 1 high blood pressure if they have a 10 year heart and stroke diseases risk of 10% or more. This is in contrast to the 20% risk in previous NICE guidelines. However, unlike the new USA guidelines, NICE keeps its definition of stage 1 high blood pressure as being over 140/90 mm Hg, not the USA’s over 130/80.

2.3 For adults with high blood pressure who are aged 80 or over, NICE has a different target – to reduce blood pressure to below 150/90 mm Hg. They say use clinical judgement for such people who are frail or have two or more long-term conditions.

3. Next actions?pointing finger2 to help you avoid heart diseases and strokes. 

If your BP is over 130/80, discuss this issue with your GP and say which blood pressure target you prefer!

Also see often asked questions on heart diseases and strokes, and trusted NHS answers. And put actions you decide in your personal health plan.

page updated 5 June 2021.  © 2021 social enterprise™ Ltd.

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