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    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | November 19th, 2017

    Last Monday, the new definition of hypertension (high blood pressure) was announced by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Forget the 140/90, you now have high blood pressure if the top number which is called the systolic blood pressure is 130 or above and/or the bottom number which is called the diastolic blood is 80 or above. Prehypertension is no longer a category. If the top number is between 120 and 129, your blood pressure is said to be elevated. We should all be aiming to have our blood pressure less than 120/80.

    Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your blood pushes against your arteries as it moves through your body.1 Blood pressure rises and falls naturally during the day. If the blood pressure stays too high, over time it can lead to health problems, such as a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness or heart failure. We know that if we can get our blood pressure below 120/80, we can prevent those problems. By changing the definition of high blood pressure, we can make sure that less people develop problems.

    Having your blood pressure less than 120/80 is the goal for everyone, even those that have been diagnosed with high blood pressure and are on medication. I have said it before, if you are on medication and your medication is not controlling your blood pressure, you are at risk for having all the health problems due to complications of high blood pressure.

    High blood pressure has been called the ‘silent killer’ because you cannot feel high blood pressure until it is too late and all the damage has been done to your body. High blood pressure needs to be controlled.

    What do we do now?

    1. Know your numbers – You need to know your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), your cholesterol levels, hemoglobin A1C (screening test for diabetes). There are many people walking around with high blood pressure and diabetes and do not know. Please do not be that person.
    2. Have a healthy lifestyle – lose weight if you are overweight or obese, eat heart healthy (DASH diet), eat foods rich in potassium (banana, avocado, spinach, wild-caught salmon, sweet potato), exercise regularly, avoid or limit alcohol – by having a healthy lifestyle, you can probably get your blood pressure down where you will not need to be on medication. The new guidelines emphasize a healthy lifestyle before considering medication.
    3. If you have high blood pressure, you should own a blood pressure monitor – For those thinking of a gift to give a loved one – a blood pressure monitor is a worthwhile gift.
    4. If you are on medication for high blood pressure, take your medication as directed. Do not stop a medication prescribed by a health care provider without their advice. The goal of the medication is to get your blood pressure under control so that you do not develop other health problems.
    5. Talk with your health care provider about the new guidelines especially if you find that your blood pressure is high. Ask questions.

    For more information on the new guidelines, please click here.



    1Information obtained from

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