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New Blood Pressure Guidelines: More Americans Have Hypertension

In the first redefinition of high blood pressure since 2003, theAmerican Heart Associationand theAmerican College of Cardiologyagreed on new guidelines listing 130/80 as the new high. Under these new high blood pressure guidelines, almost half of American adults have high blood pressure (hypertension). So now, instead of indicating prehypertension (a category that has been eliminated) a blood pressure reading of 130-139 or 80-89 is considered high.

The new blood pressure categories.

  • Normal = less than 120andless than 80
  • Elevated = 120-129andless than 80
  • High Blood Pressure Stage 1 = 130-139or80-89
  • High Blood Pressure Stage 2 = 140 or higheror90 or higher
  • Hypertensive Crisis (call your doctor immediately) = Higher than 180and/orhigher than 120

BP.jpgNew blood pressure guideline changes.

  • The definition for hypertension used to be 140/90 or higher and now it’s 130/80
  • There’s no such thing as "prehypertension” anymore, which was classified as 120-139 or 80-89

When to go to the ER with high blood pressure.

Gan Su, DO,an emergency medicine physician atMedical City Arlington, says you should come to the ER if you have a pre-existing condition of high blood pressure and:

  • Your blood pressure is 10-20% higher than your normal
  • You have other symptoms, including:
    • Chest pain
    • Shortness of breath
    • Headaches

How to check your blood pressure at home.

One high reading doesn’t necessarily mean you havehypertension— it could beanxietyor another external factor. Readings are sometimes higher at doctor visits because people are often nervous. This is called "white coat hypertension.” Others experience the opposite effect and have lower readings in their doctors’ offices than at home. This is called"masked hypertension”and can be dangerous if left unrecognized and untreated.

That’s why it’s vital to haveregular doctor checkupsand monitor your blood pressure frequently at home.

According to the American Heart Association, the best blood pressure monitor to have at home is one that encircles your upper arm and inflates automatically. Here aretipsfor getting accurate readings.

  • Sit quietly for at least 5 minutes before testing
    • Don’t smoke, drink caffeine or alcohol or exercise within 30 minutes prior to testing
    • Empty your bladder
  • Sit up straight in a firm, hard-backed chair that supports your back
    • Don’t sit or lay on a sofa or bed
    • Place feet flat on the floor with legs uncrossed
    • Your arm should be supported on a flat surface, such as the chair arm or a table
    • The upper arm should be at heart level
  • Place the cuff on your upper arm above the bend in your elbow
    • See your monitor’s instructions for an illustration or ask for a demonstration at your doctor’s office
    • Don’t place the cuff over clothing
  • Measure at the same time every day
    • Daily readings are ideal
    • If you can’t do that, at least track your pressure beginning two weeks after a change in treatment and during the week of your next appointment
  • Take multiple readings and record the results
    • Take two or three readings one minute apart
    • Record your readings using your monitor’s built-in memory (take it with you to your appointment) or use aprintableoronline tracker

BP-Check.jpg

How to lower your blood pressure.

You can fight back against this symptomless "silent killer” that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health threats, including stroke, heart failure, vision loss, heart attack, kidney disease/failure and more. Here’show:

  • Quit smoking
  • Limit salt intake
  • Scale back alcohol consumption
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Increase your daily physical activity
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stick to your medication schedule
  • Consult your doctor for additional guidance