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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Screening for High Blood Pressure

Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation

This document is a summary of the 2007 update of recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on screening for high blood pressure. This summary is intended for use by primary care clinicians.

For a summary of the evidence systematically reviewed in making these recommendations, the full recommendation statement (PDF File, 350 KB; PDF Help), and supporting documents, go to http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

Select for copyright and source information.

Population Adult General Population1
Recommendation Screen for high blood pressure

Grade: A

Screening Tests

High blood pressure (hypertension) is usually defined in adults as: systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 140 mm Hg or higher, or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90 mm Hg or higher.

Due to variability in individual blood pressure measurements, it is recommended that hypertension be diagnosed only after 2 or more elevated readings are obtained on at least 2 visits over a period of 1 to several weeks.

Screening Intervals The optimal interval for screening adults for hypertension is not known.

The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7) recommends:

  • Screening every 2 years with BP <120/80.
  • Screening every year with SBP of 120-139 mmHg or DBP of 80-90 mmHg.
Suggestions for Practice A variety of pharmacological agents are available to treat hypertension. JNC 7 guidelines for treatment of hypertension can be accessed at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/hypertension/jncintro.htm.

The following non-pharmacological therapies are associated with reductions in blood pressure:

  • Reduction of dietary sodium intake.
  • Potassium supplementation.
  • Increased physical activity, weight loss.
  • Stress management.
  • Reduction of alcohol intake.
Other Relevant Recommendations from the USPSTF Adults with hypertension should be screened for diabetes.

Adults should be screened for hyperlipidemia (depending on age, sex, risk factors) and smoking. Clinicians should discuss aspirin chemoprevention with patients at increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

These recommendations and related evidence are available at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org.

1. This recommendation applies to adults without known hypertension.

Copyright and Source Information

This document is in the public domain within the United States.

Requests for linking or to incorporate content in electronic resources should be sent via the USPSTF contact form.

AHRQ Publication Number 08-15105-EF-3
Current as of December 2007

Internet Citation:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for High Blood Pressure: Clinical Summary of U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation. December 2007. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf07/hbp/hbpsum.htm


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