Is your blood pressure too high?

Don’t just get your BP taken make sure it’s taken the right way

130/80 is the new high - a change from the old definition of 140/90. The new AHA standards means almost half of Americans may now have high blood pressure.

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death for Americans, according to the CDC. One was tasked with lowering their systolic pressure (the first number, which measures the blood pressure when your heart pulses) to below 120, the other, to below 140.

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

"If you take it right as the patient walks in, it's usually higher, because he has sort of a fight or flight response so he has 10 points more but then they relax and the pressure is normal", Dr. Fabregas said.

"We now know that a blood pressure level between 130-139/80-89 doubles your risk of cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack compared to people whose blood pressure is under 120/80", says Paul Whelton, M.D.

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Potentially deadly high blood pressure can be brought under control with a wide array of medications, many sold as relatively low-cost generics.

"There are millions of people that fall into this category that's now called Stage One Hypertension who previously we were calling normal blood pressures", Cardiology Director for the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Hartford Healthcare Corporation at MidState Medical Center Dr. Bill Farrell said.

Millions more Americans will be classified as having high blood pressure, but this doesn't necessarily mean more people will be put on medication.

Dr. Calvin says that can be addressed with lifestyle changes like eating more fruits and veggies, increasing exercise, and minimizing alcohol consumption. But only a small percentage of those patients will be prescribed anti-hypertensive medication, the association said. Then a person's reading becomes the average of those numbers and reduces the risk of "white coat hypertension" - blood pressure readings that are improperly elevated because a patient in a doctor's office is nervous.

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