Updated Blood Pressure Guidelines: Are You Affected?
The American Heart Association (AHA) issued guidelines that change how we look at high blood pressure. More than 75 percent of Americans older than age 65 now meet the criteria for the condition. Here’s what these changes may mean for you.
Lower Is the New High
Blood pressure is stated as two numbers; for example, 125/75 mmHg. In the past, high blood pressure was defined as 140/90 mmHg and higher. According to the new guidelines, blood pressure is considered high if:
- The first number is 130 or above or
- The second number is 80 or above
Keep in mind that these numbers are just general guidelines. Your doctor can help you identify the target numbers that are best for you.
Blood pressure levels tend to rise with age. If you have high blood pressure, checking your numbers at home helps you keep tabs on it. In addition, the AHA says everyone should get their blood pressure checked at a doctor’s office at least once every two years.
Reaching a New Low
If your blood pressure is too high, lowering it can reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and death. Several risk factors for high blood pressure--such as eating an unhealthy diet, not exercising, being overweight, and drinking too much alcohol--are things you can change. Here’s how:
- Cut down your salt intake.
- Eat a nutritious, balanced diet.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Lose weight, if you need to.
- Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Some people also need medicine to help keep their blood pressure down. If your doctor prescribes a blood pressure-lowering medicine, take it exactly as directed. That’s one crucial piece of advice that hasn’t changed.
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