Guideline change puts more people at risk of high blood pressure

A change in blood pressure guidelines puts 31 million more Americans at risk of heart disease.

There was a 50 percent increase in people at risk for health disease in the last 24 hours due to a change in blood pressure guidelines.

"Nearly half of us would be considered hypertensive now," said Irving Schwartz, MD, of Blessing Hospital Physician Services.

The new guidelines that were established diagnosed 31 million more people with high blood pressure.

The new threshold to be considered hypertensive was lowered from 140 over 90, to 130 over 80.

This change may impact treatment and actions medical professionals would recommend.

"He or she may think differently and say you may need medicine now," Schwartz said.

A big change with the new guidelines was the focus on impacts and lifestyle changes.

More people are put in that hypertension state so they can focus on making healthy decisions.

"(You can help high blood pressure by) Exercise at least 30 minutes, three days a week,” Schwartz said. “Eating about eight to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Minimize your saturated fat intake which means meat."

Cutting sodium intake down to 1500mg a day, increasing your potassium intake and losing weight are other ways to lower your blood pressure.

The focus on lifestyle changes and impacts aims to remove the confusion.

"It really matters if you can lower your blood pressure and get it within normal range, your heart attack risk is going to drop,” Schwartz said. “So it means something, it's not just a number."

If you're looking for a way to improve your health, Blessing Hospital in Quincy offers a program called Complete Health Improvement Program, or CHIP.

For more information, call 217-223-8400, ext. 4202.

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