Redefined blood pressure guidelines means yours could be too high

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Nearly half of the U.S adult population is now considered to have high blood pressure.

This comes after the American Heart Association redefined guidelines for the first time in nearly a decade.

In an attempt to address potentially deadly conditions in patients much earlier, the American Heart Association presented new guidelines by lowering the defining numbers for high blood pressure.

During a visit to the doctor’s office, a series of tests examine our health, but starting Monday your doctor could be telling you something new.

“For the first time millions of American may be told that they have elevated blood pressure, whereas previously they've been told that their blood pressure is O.K.,” says Dr. Andrew Calvin with the Cardiac Center at Mayo Clinic Health System.

For the first time since 2003, the American Heart Association has redefined high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is now defined as readings of 130 over 80 or higher, a change from the old definition of 140 over 90.

Now 46 percent of U.S. adults will have high blood pressure.

Doctor Andrew Calvin of Mayo Clinic Health System says the new guidelines come with the commonality of high blood pressure today.

“Our food these days contain a lot of sodium, physical activity levels for a lot of folks are less than what it should be, obesity is on the rise,” Dr. Calvin explains.

The AHA says the new guidelines are designed to help people address the potentially deadly condition much earlier.

“High blood pressure is called the silent killer because it usually has no signs or symptoms to go with it,” says Dr. Calvin. “And yet it carries with it a really high risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney damage, so one of the most important things that I can do as the doctor is to treat high blood pressure and to prevent those things in my patients.”

The American Heart Association says falling into this category won't always call for medication, but it's rather a yellow light to lowering blood pressure.

Dr. Calvin says that can be addressed with lifestyle changes like eating more fruits and veggies, increasing exercise, and minimizing alcohol consumption.

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