Major Health Issues: Changing Definitions of Hypertension Or High Blood Pressure

NASA, 1982. "Self-growing lunar factory."
NASA, 1982. "Self-growing lunar factory." | Source

Changes of Definitions and Effects of Aging

Some of us have been frustrated by changes, fine tuning - even hair splitting - concerning the definition of high blood pressure or hypertension. Further, no matter what the definition, many people have the condition without knowing they have it and many that do know do not comply with measures that can lower the numbers and the risks for heart attack and stroke, e.g. diet, exercise, stress management, stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, individual factors, etc.

To the health practitioner dealing with blood pressure and cardiovascular risk factors, the total landscape makes a Gordian Knot.

One critical consideration is that there exists a condition known as Uncontrollable High Blood Pressure. No medication, no technique, nothing works on it. A group of Ohio physicians in the mid-1990s felt that they would like to construct a blood pressure clinic on the Moon for these cases, the reduced gravity felt to probably reduce the blood pressures. It is an interesting notion.

I have heard various schools of thought regarding Hypertension or High Blood Pressure in our universities and clinics. One such thought was that perhaps the blood pressures of senior citizens increase with age, because they are supposed to do so, naturally. Today, many articles report that average blood pressure raises with age, but the numbers can be lowered with preventive measures, especially if taken up in earlier life. But how high is high?

While some useful information exists here and in official website data from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Red Cross, and other organizations, I think it is important that you be working with a licensed healthcare or a well-trained and knowledgeable alternative health practitioner in order to determine the healthiest blood pressure levels for your individual Self.

The same may be stated for other vital signs and other biological/health readings. I can't point from the Internet and say "so-and-so has high blood pressure." However, some physicians are beginning to consult with some patients over the Internet. In the future, we can probably send many of our vital signs over the web.

Apollo 4 Saturn V night launch.
Apollo 4 Saturn V night launch.

G Forces "Out There"

Even after studying and working with blood pressure risk prevention and treatment, I want to consider individual differences in people as well as national guidelines, so I advise people to ask their healthcare providers about their own readings and not to really 100% on tables of guidelines. Guidelines change, new information emerges every day, and we may not have immediate access to it all, even with the Internet running 24/7. New journal articles are sometimes available only at a high fee, for example. I read regularly for new information - it's where I found that blood pressure is generally higher in winter than summer.

America seems to be entering an age of Mars exploration and colonization, and privatized space flight and we know that the guidelines for blood pressure may change "out there."For instance - how many G Forces can one tolerate and how does this change per every decade or year of aging? This is useful information for roller coaster riding on earth as well - some coaster operators worn riders about high blood pressure. People living in extraterrestrial colonies in a gravity of less magnitude than Earth's will likely experience lower blood pressure. But then, how low is low? I still have a vision of people living in space without artificial gravity as turning into jellyfish as calcium leeches from bones and muscles lose mass and tone. Newer preventive medicine and public health projects and NASA researchers and physicians are looking into that; private enterprises are likely up to the same activities.

Is the truth out there as X-Files told us? Maybe.

Frustrating Changes

After several years of quoting "120/80" as normal blood pressure, we were told in the 1990s that we were incorrect. Ooops. We in educational, public health, and clinic type settings began to be directed that the reading 120/80 was the lower limit of pre-hypertension. In fact, 119/79 was "high normal." It was all frustrating, but, with an average blood pressure of 110/70, I was not going to worry about my own; and I checked it a few times a week. I felt I had to be very careful about what I told clients and test participants so as not to be alarmist.

We were taught about blood pressure's staus as a "continuous variable" - meaning that you can't stop the blood pressure in order to measure it (we laughed). So, we began taking our own readings daily and looking at trends.

I still check my blood pressure reading 2-4 times a week at the drug store at the pharmacy counter where a kiosk sits quipped with a seat and an automatic cuff. These setups are not 100% accurate, but are good for a general screening. They are not very accurate for the individuals that need a larger cuff because of arm diameter, for example. I like the screenings available through a LifeLine or similar mobile clinic where the staffers take pressure readings in both arms and both lower legs. Many people have the screening yearly and it includes other helpful measures as well.

Overall, if either my systolic or diastolic pressures land in the prehypertensive range, I take a closer look at my daily diet, activities, and stress levels. When visiting a healthcare professional, I take the last two readings with me.

Many churches and other organizations provide free screenings for blood pressure and cholesterol and these are a good first measure to determine if a client needs further workups. I remember that in the 1990s, Japanese airports offered cholesterol reading machines. Screenings may become increasingly more accessible and easy with time forward.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Guidelines 2010

Average ("Normal") - BOTH numbers must fall into line 
119  (under 120)
79 (under 80) 
120 - 139 
80 -89 
Stage 1 HBP (EITHER number)
140 - 149
90 - 99
Stage 2 HBP (EITHER number)
Data provided by the US National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services.

Examples Of Reading For Hypertension

140/70 = Stage 1 Hypertension

110/99 = Stage 1 Hypertension

100/100 = Stage 2 Hypertension

140/100 = Stage 2 Hypertension

170/75 = Stage 2 Hypertension


A single reading with a high number is not a final diagnosis of High Blood Pressure. Take more than one reading, compare, and consult with your healthcare practitioner!

Screenings at the Mall by Mayo Clinic

First US Space Shuttle mission, STS-1, Space Shuttle Columbia; 1981.
First US Space Shuttle mission, STS-1, Space Shuttle Columbia; 1981. | Source

© 2010 Patty Inglish

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Comments 12 comments

DiamondRN profile image

DiamondRN 6 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

High blood pressure combined with high cholesterol is a recipe for strokes and heart attacks.

theindianblues profile image

theindianblues 6 years ago from Some where on the Globe

Good work Patty Inglish, MS; This is what I am looking for. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful and detailed hub.

Georzetta profile image

Georzetta 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

Very interesting! Is there any information to indicate that monitoring your blood pressure several times a week is more valuable to your general health than tracking it every few months?

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for the comments!

@DiamondRN - I know several people under treatment for both. Can be very serious.

@theindianblues - Glad you liked it!

@Georzetta - The American Heart Assn. advises only to ask one's doctor how often is best, but also that a professional should take the reading at least once every 2 years. I like to see trends, so I kept the habit since grad.

Just my opinion, but I tink people in high stress jobs working long hours may benefit from seeing their readings more often than once in 2 years.

Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 6 years ago from United States

Because of my husband's ongoing heart issues I am required to take his blood pressure several times a day and report that back to telephone triage nurses. This article helped me to understand a little better what the numbers could mean. I have high blood pressure and take medication too, but only check my own occasionally as it stresses me to know too much sometimes. The blood pressure machines the VA provides us with also measure pulse and heart rhythm and it seems that when the blood pressure is up, is when he gets the irregular heart beat warnings.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Jerilee - Thanks for reading and I send you and your husband best wishes for health and comfort. It can all be so frustrating and frightening. Your information sharing helps the rest of us as well and thanks for that. I know little about the irregular heart beat and this reminds me to read about it. Hugs to you!

LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Thank you for this important article. Each person is different, and I am glad that someone is taking notice of that. Great Hub.

LeanMan profile image

LeanMan 6 years ago from At the Gemba

I hope I get to live on a colony on mars one day to check the effects of my blood pressure! Fine hub.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

You have raised a very important topic and included a lot of information which bound to help. These days with all the stress and pressure it is very important to keep an eye on blood pressure which can cause strokes and heartattacks unnecessarily. Thank you, Patty, for writing such an appreciated hub.

david stillwagon 6 years ago

I have had problems with keeping my blood pressure "normal" for years. I find that if it gets too high I usually get a bad headache if too low then I get light headed.

Through the years I have had to adjust the meds I take. It can be quite a juggling act.

Terrific well thought out hub

kaltopsyd profile image

kaltopsyd 6 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

Thank you, Ms. Patty for an amazingly written article. I enjoyed reading it and learning something new as well. It's amazing how things change in the medical field - and quite often too. This change reminded me of how the method for CPR and other rescue techniques have changed in the last few years. Thanks for writing this article - so clear, organised and easy to read.

Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

David - I hope you are feelking well now; blood pressures can be extremely frustrating.

kaltopsyd - That had totally slipped my mind. I remember learning 4 different CPR methods for adults in about 20 years; so I am going to review my latest manuals today!

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