Millions more Americans may now have high blood pressure

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – You might have high blood pressure and not even realize it.

New guidelines from the American Heart Association say that millions of Americans will now be diagnosed with hypertension even if their blood pressure was not considered high before.

“Elevated blood pressure is not our friend. It’s not a good thing for the body,” Dr. Suzie Mookherjee said.

The American Heart Association redefined what it means to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is no longer 140/90. You could be diagnosed with hypertension if your pressure is 130/80.

“Now, hopefully, people who didn’t think they were at risk now realize that a blood pressure of 130 or more is actually something to be concerned about,” Dr. Mookherjee said.

High blood pressure can mean serious problems with your heart. Dr. Mookherjee says to think of the cardiovascular system like a garden.

“If you think of all the organs, the brain, the kidney, the heart, every organ in the body as a garden. We use a hosepipe to give blood or to give “water” to make the garden grow, that’s how I think of blood vessels in the body. If you have a lot of pressure in those hose pipes, it’s not good for the pipe.”

Another doctor at St. Peters agrees. Dr. Fabregas says when the high pressure ruins those pipes, or blood vessels, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This can cause a dangerous buildup of tissue that makes your heart stiffer.

“It also develops a tissue called collagen and eventually that is what sickens the heart,” Dr. Fabregas said.

Dr. Fabregas says that even if your first blood pressure reading comes back high, you might not be at risk for hypertension. The secret he says, get checked twice.

“If you take it right as the patient walks in, it’s usually higher, because he has sort of a fight or flight response so he has 10 points more but then they relax and the pressure is normal,” Dr. Fabregas said.

So what do you do if you now have hypertension?  The doctors say you might have genetics to blame, but you might also just have to make some lifestyle changes

“Millions of more people hopefully will have increased awareness about their blood pressure and maybe pay more attention to low salt diet, to diet, to exercise, to weight loss… it doesn’t necessarily mean medication right off the bat,” Mookherjee said.

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