ODESSA, TX (KWES) - If you didn't think you had high blood pressure, you might fall into a category for hypertension.
The American Heart Association and other experts recently changed the new guidelines for high blood pressure. The last time the guidelines were put in place was almost 14 years ago.
With the new guidelines, that means 46% of Americans are now considered to have high blood pressure. Doctors said the guidelines are to prevent health risks. The new guidelines recognize that society has changed in the past years since the number of Americans with hypertension has increased.
"If you go to areas like West Texas, we don't have the most healthy habits so that goes up," said Dr. Fernando Boccalandro, Board Certified in Cardiovascular Services and Interventional Cardiology at Medical Center Hospital. "The purpose is to give guidance based on the most current evidence in a simple way so people can treat hypertension effectively."
Before the new guidelines, if your blood pressure was above 140, that meant you had high blood pressure. But now it's shifted so for those with a blood pressure of 130-139, they're now categorized as stage 1 hypertension.
"The higher the blood pressure goes up, the higher the risk," said Boccalandro. "That's why it's so important to treat it because we can lower your blood pressure back to normal range, then we expect to decrease the risk."
But the new guidelines don't mean you have to start taking medication to treat it. It means that doctors can now make recommendations to help you lower your blood pressure. Recommendations like exercising, losing weight, or decreasing the amount of sodium. If that doesn't work, there's medical therapy medications to lower your blood pressure.
"They just recommend lifestyle changes, they don't necessarily recommend medications unless you have somebody with a high risk like someone who's had a heart attack or a stroke so they're at risk of having a second event," said Boccalandro.
The changes give doctors the chance to find out your risk in the long run. In hopes that by making changes now, it can save more lives.
"It's easier, and cheaper for society to treat hypertension than treat a heart attack or treat a stroke in ten years but the result of hypertension ten years for that person can be devastating," said Boccalandro. "If we treat it early, we can potentially prevent that."
Doctors said your environment is crucial when you're getting your blood pressure checked. They suggest checking it at home with a blood pressure monitor rather than a doctor's office. Most people are stressed when they're in a doctor's office and are more relaxed at home.