Healthy Living: 1/2 of all Americans now have high blood pressure under new guidelines

High blood pressure making headlines.  This week the American Heart Association updated the standards for measuring high blood pressure.  Under the  new guidelines, a blood pressure of 130 over 80 is now considered high.  It used to be 140 over 90.

Dr. Eugene Yang with UW Medicine says by lowering the standards, more people will be alerted to the risks associated with high blood pressure, and doctors can more aggressively look for ways to treat it.

High blood pressure is considered a silent killer because the are no symptoms.  If left untreated, high blood pressure increases a person's risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

According to the American Heart Association, under the new guidelines, half of all Americans will now fall into the high blood pressure category.  Dr. Yang says for most people diagnosed with hypertension, it will mean lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure.  That includes  changes to diet, exercise, losing weight and not smoking.  Dr. Yang says if those changes don't work to lower blood pressure, then medication may be necessary.

The changes come just a week after doctors announced new guidelines for measuring blood pressure in kids.  Health leaders are now recommending kids have their blood pressure checked during well-child visit starting at the age of three.  Doctors say since high blood pressure runs in families it's important to address concerns early.  They add that the nationwide obesity epidemic in kids has contributed to increased rates of high blood pressure in kids.  For that reason, catching it when kids are young and changing their habits will help reduce heart disease risks later in life.

If you would like to read more about the updated guidelines from the American Heart Association on high blood pressure, click on this link.