BOISE - For the first time in more than a decade, there are new guidelines that redefine who is diagnosed with high blood pressure.
With these changes from the American Heart Association, more than 100 million Americans now have what is considered high blood pressure - about 30 million more than under the previous guidelines.
The main point in changing these guidelines is to aggressively identify that the risk is there and to take action sooner.
According to the American Heart Association, Idaho ranks in the middle nationwide when it comes to prevalence of hypertension among adults with 31.2 percent.
New guidelines now define high blood pressure as anything about 130 over 80. Before the change, high blood pressure was defined as at or above 140 over 90. The new "normal" is less than 120 over 80 and elevated blood pressure is now 120-129 over 80.
Dr. Robert Lindsay, with Ada Pediatrics, says he hopes that these new guidelines will help people take action to live a healthier lifestyle because years of high blood pressure can cause health problems down the road.
"People don't develop symptoms particularly early on with elevated blood pressures," Dr. Lindsay said. "They don't know they don't know that they've got elevated blood pressure so they don't get medical attention and even if they do their doctors may warn them and they may not take it to heart, especially those people under 40 who otherwise were feeling fine."
The main question stemming from the new guidelines is: "Does this mean more people will be on medication?' Dr. Lindsay and the American Heart Association say in many cases, this will not happen.
People with elevated or Stage 1 Hypertension will be advised to make lifestyle changes like exercising on most days of the week, reducing salt intake, changing your diet and losing weight, and quitting smoking.
The American Heart Association also says that while the guidelines have changed, it' doesn't mean if you now fall in that high blood pressure category you face a dramatic increase in risk. This is all to make sure you get a head start on managing blood pressure through close monitoring, which is a lifelong process.
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