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High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart attack and stroke in America. It’s also one of the most preventable causes of heart disease, second only to smoking. Many Americans are aware that they have high blood pressure and take medication to manage it. But, what about people who have high blood pressure and don’t know it?

Latest Guidelines for High Blood Pressure

According to the latest guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, many more people may fall into the range of “high” than “normal”. Traditionally, high blood pressure was considered 140/90. With the new guidelines, 130/80 is now considered high.

Here is a breakdown of the latest healthy and unhealthy blood pressure ranges.

  • Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80
  • Elevated blood pressure is 120-129/80
  • High blood pressure (Stage 1) is 130-139/80-89
  • High blood pressure (Stage 2) is 140+/90+
  • High blood pressure (Hypertensive crisis) is 180+/120+

A Look at the New Statistics

Millions of people who were once considered normal will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Here is what the new statistics look like:

  • Number of adults with high blood pressure will grow from 72 million to 103 million
  • Number of men under the age of 45 with high blood pressure will triple
  • Number of women under the age of 45 with high blood pressure will double

Though it can feel frustrating to have high blood pressure based on the new guidelines, consider it a good thing. If you have elevated blood pressure, your heart has to work extra hard to pump blood through the body. This causes the arteries to lose their elasticity. They can stiffen and become weaker over time, putting you at risk for heart attack or stroke.

Bottom line: making smart decisions today can save your life in the future.

How to Treat High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure does not have a cure, but it is treatable with medication and lifestyle changes. These include:

  • Eating more fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Being active for 30-60 minutes most days
  • Not smoking cigarettes
  • Consuming less salt
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol
  • Monitoring blood pressure
  • Taking medication

Obtaining a nutritionist to help make diet recommendations will benefit you. If you or a loved one has high blood pressure, also consider enlisting help from a home care service like Family Private Care.  Our companions can assist you to adhere to a healthy diet plan and encourage more mobility and exercise. For more information on the new guidelines, visit heart.org.