High blood pressure rarely announces its presence in a way that people are likely to notice. Yet, left unchecked, it can quietly lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

Now, after reviewing more than 900 studies, The American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have released stricter guidelines for identifying and treating high blood pressure. Below are a few of the notable changes under the new guidelines:
• Normal blood pressure guidelines change slightly from 120/80 to less-than-120/80
• High-blood pressure threshold lowered from 140/90 to 130/80
• New guidelines recommend people monitor blood pressure more regularly, including wearable digital monitors (like a Fitbit)

Knowing the Numbers

Blood pressure is read as two separate numbers:
• Systolic, or top number, refers to the pressure measured when the heart is contracting
• Diastolic, or bottom number, is measured when the heart is at rest

“There are strong links between high blood pressure and heart disease. Monitoring your blood pressure regularly can preserve your quality of life and, in fact, save your life when a potential issue is caught early enough,” states Peter Y. Kaneshige, M.D. “And if you have high blood pressure, your doctor can help you manage it with medication and/or lifestyle changes.”

Diet and lifestyle changes can be started immediately, and include:
• Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables with lean protein
• Maintaining a healthy weight and a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or less
• Enjoying 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week
• Reducing stress
• Not smoking
• Limiting alcohol intake

Under the new guidelines, nearly half of Americans are suffering from high blood pressure and should be actively managing it. At MemorialCare Medical Group, we encourage everyone to have their blood pressure read by a health care provider at least once a year – more often if it’s high.