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Blog / 2017 / December / AHA Updates Blood Pressure Guidelines
December 4, 2017

AHA Updates Blood Pressure Guidelines

by Caitlin Kinser

The American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the American Heart Association (AHA), along with nine other organizations, recently released updated blood pressure guidelines.

What are the changes?

The 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults is the first major revision of the guidelines in more than a decade. Watch the AHA video regarding the update.

  • Lowered the definition of high blood pressure from 140/90 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg
  • Eliminated the category of "prehypertension" and replaced with Elevated Blood Pressure
  • Emphasized the importance of structured exercise in the prevention and treatment of hypertension

Why are the changes important?

According to 10th edition of ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, hypertension appears to be the result of lifestyle factors such as diets high in salt and fat intake, excess body weight, and physical inactivity. Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease and premature mortality.


The revised guidelines from the AHA reflect key changes. The increased emphasis of the importance of structured exercise further reiterates the message of one of ACSM's key initiatives, Exercise is Medicine®, and the many other spokes that circle this important message.

How does this affect ACSM members and is ACSM updating their resources to incorporate these changes?

  • All ACSM members: ACSM Blog guest authors Linda S. Pescatello, PhD, FACSM and Paul D. Thompson, MD, FACSM provide their expert take on the impact of the revised AHA guidelines.
  • Certified Professionals: Practicing certified professionals should begin implementing the new guidelines into their practices immediately. ACSM Certification exams will be updated to reflect the change effective January 2019.
  • Clinicians: We encourage you to read the 2017 guidelines and advise your patients of how the revised guidelines affects them.
  • General Public: If you're concerned about your blood pressure, see your doctor. They can discuss ways to prevent or manage hypertension with lifestyle changes such as adjusting the amount of salt and fat in your diet, losing weight, and increasing your physical activity level. The AHA site also has great resources such as understanding blood pressure readings, making lifestyle changes, adding physical activity, and many more.

Additionally, the senior editors and authors of our book resources have weighed in on the impact of these changes for recently published titles. The updates will be reflected in the ebooks and book updates page immediately.

For more information please contact the following:

  • Media and press inquiries, please contact the ACSM Communications and Public Information Department: publicinfo@acsm.org
  • For questions regarding publications and related content, please contact the ACSM Publications Department: achastain@acsm.org
  • For certification or exam questions, please contact the ACSM Certification Department: certification@acsm.org


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