The new guidelines put blood pressure readings in five categories:

Normal. Top number less than 120 and bottom number less than 80.

Elevated. Top number between 120 and 129, and bottom number less than 80.

Stage One. Top number between 130 and 139, or bottom between 80 and 89.

Stage Two. Top number of 140 or higher, or bottom number of 90 or higher.

Hypertensive Crisis. Top number over 180 and / or bottom number over 120.

The elevated category is a new and helpful addition, CR experts say. Blood pressure of 130 to 139 (top) or 80 to 89 (bottom)mmHg doubles your risk of cardiovascular complications compared with people with levels lower than 120/80, according to the guidelines. The hope is by flagging elevated blood pressure earlier, when it is still in the 120s, “we’re motivating people to make lifestyle changes such as losing weight, getting exercise, watching salt intake, quitting smoking, and cutting back on alcohol,” Greenland says.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health March 2018 Philip Greenland, M.D., professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

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