• By Elizabeth Coots, Extension Agent

Family and Consumer Sciences: What do the new blood pressure 2017 guidelines mean for you?

Since 2003, an average blood pressure reading of 140/90 mmHg or more was considered high. This past year, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology put out a new rule for defining high blood pressure. High blood pressure is now anything 130/80 mmHg or more. With this change, the number of adults with high blood pressure is estimated to increase from 32 percent to 46 percent. If you find yourself among the adults who will now be diagnosed with high blood pressure, do not worry too much.

Most adults affected by the new rule will be able to lower their blood pressure through lifestyle changes alone. Only a small percentage of adults will need to go on medication. Talk to your medical provider about what steps you can take to lower your blood pressure.

Here are a few lifestyle changes recommended to get your blood pressure down:

1. Your weight loss should either be your ideal weight or losing about two pounds for every one mmHg in blood pressure you need to lower. If you do not know your blood pressure, it will likely be taken next time you go to the doctor. Some stores with pharmacies have machines that will read your blood pressure free of charge.

2. Change your diet to include more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

3. Lower the amount of sodium or salt you eat. Get 90 to 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise, either jogging or brisk walking and 90 to 150 minutes a week of strength training. 4. Drink less alcohol. For men, two drinks or less a day is recommended. Women should drink no more than one drink per day. Those with high blood pressure are at twice the risk of heart disease than those with normal blood pressure. By changing how blood pressure is defined, medical professionals aim to lower the number of adults with high blood pressure and heart disease. Addressing high blood pressure early on will help adults gain control of their blood pressure and their health.

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