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What Does The New Hypertension Guideline Mean For Me?
For years, high blood pressure (HBP), or hypertension, was diagnosed when blood pressure measured 140/90 mmHg or higher. But a new guideline from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association lowered this number so that you can take steps to control your blood pressure earlier. Now, a reading of 130/80 mmHg signals HBP. (Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mmHg.)
HBP doesn’t usually have signs or symptoms, but it can be dangerous and life-threatening, leading to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. What does the new blood pressure guideline mean for you? Here’s what to expect.
A possible diagnosis. If you didn’t have HBP before, you may now. As a result of the new guideline, more Americans—nearly half the U.S. adult population—will be diagnosed with HBP, with the greatest impact expected among younger people.
Homework. To diagnose HBP and make sure any blood pressure medication you’re prescribed is working, your doctor may ask you to measure your blood pressure with a home monitor. Self-monitoring over time can be more accurate than one measurement in the doctor’s office. Take your blood pressure at the same time daily. Do at least two readings one minute apart each morning before medication and every evening before dinner. Keep a record and bring it to your doctor appointments.
A lifestyle Rx. If you’re diagnosed with HBP, your doctor may suggest focusing on lifestyle changes before prescribing medication. The new guideline emphasizes losing weight if you need to, exercising 90 to 150 minutes per week, and limiting alcohol to no more than two drinks daily for men or one for women. Changes like these may help lower your blood pressure to a healthy level.
Know your number
What’s your blood pressure? To find out, see your doctor for a checkup. For more information about reducing HBP, visit the American Heart Association.
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