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If you’ve been putting off a visit to the GP, now more than ever is the time to head to the doc. The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology just lowered the threshold for high blood pressure to 130/80 millimeters of mercury, and now 46% of Americans — up from 32% — fall in the danger zone
© American Heart Association American Heart Association Blood Pressure Chart
If you’re one of the 30 million Americans who now fall in the extended range, don’t worry too much. In the vast majority of cases, your doctor will likely recommend lifestyle changes, not a prescription, to get you back on track.
“If you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it,” Whelton says. “It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure.
” Losing weight, exercising more, drinking less alcohol and eating more fruits, veggies and whole grains can all make a positive difference and reduce your risk of other chronic diseases too.
While some people may have some devices to check their blood pressure at home, make sure you go to the doctor at least once a year for a reading, and more often if you have elevated or high blood pressure. To get the most accurate number, be still for five minutes before the test and don’t talk during it.
The cuff should be at your heart level as you’re sitting up. The AHA also recommends getting multiple readings and averaging the results, since they can fluctuate significantly.