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New guidelines raise number of people at-risk for high blood pressure

New guidelines raise number of people at-risk for high blood pressure.

Under new guidelines from the American Heart Association 50 percent of Americans are now considered to be "at risk" for high blood pressure, many have never been faced with that diagnosis before and are now wondering what to do.

Newschannel 3's Christine VanTimmern talked with doctors at Borgess about these new guidelines.

The next time you go to get your blood pressure taken, know that your numbers may not mean what you think they do. A blood pressure of 130 over 80 used to be considered normal, now that's considered high

Debbi Lindsey, a Borgess Nurse, said, “People come in and their blood pressures are horrendously high and they have a stroke and once you have a horrible stroke you don't recover from it.”

Lindsey sees high blood pressure all the time as a nurse at Borgess and, as someone who suffers from it herself, she understands why treating it makes all the difference.

She suggests everyone start consistently taking a look at their blood pressure numbers.

“The key is logging,” she said, “Get a blood pressure cuff and start writing it down, because you're never going to remember your numbers.”

And if you find you're typically higher than 120 over 80, It's time to talk with a doctor.

Cindy Bouma, with the American Heart Association, said, “Your risk of vessel disease will double, even from 120 to 130 using the top number from your blood pressure.”

Dr. Robert La Penna, Interventional Cardiologist at Borgess, said treatment doesn't have to mean medication for those with elevated blood pressure. Adjusting diet and adding exercise will have almost immediate effects.

He said, “The big thing would be reducing salt in the diet. We take in about 15 grams of salt, we should take in about 5 in a normal diet.”

Diet and exercise weren't enough for Lindsey. She takes medication twice a day and La Penna said these guidelines may be the call to action our country needs to get on the right track.

He said, “That could be a wakeup call for some people who would otherwise blow it off and consider a lifestyle that was borderline, in our opinion.”

Medical experts say if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure or hypertension it is not something to ignore.

So for more information you can go to the American Heart Association's website at heart.org. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

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