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Study: Half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, but how can you change those numbers?

WSBT 22

"For the general public, the news is that we should drive the blood pressure down and people should try to achieve the lowest blood pressure they can,” said Beacon Medical Cardiologist, Dr. Raman Mitra.

Area doctors are spreading awareness after new health guideline suggests nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure.

The new standards lower the threshold for high blood pressure.

Health experts say patients should know their blood pressure numbers. That's because the new measures increase the percentage of Americans considered to have high blood pressure to 46 percent of the population.

Doctors say hypertension can be hereditary. But for the majority of the population, you have the power to change the numbers.

"Unfortunately most people don't have a lot of symptoms with high blood pressure and that's one of the reasons for human nature to say doc I feel fine,” said Dr. Mitra. "By the time the symptoms occur, the damage is actually been occurring for decades."

The patients Dr. Mitra sees have a heart that may have vessels filled with plaque, which makes the heart work harder.

A new threshold released this week by the American Heart Association estimates 30 million more Americans have these symptoms.

Now, high blood pressure starts at 130 to 139 over 80 to 89. Previously the range was 140 or more over 90 or more.

Mitra says reducing the number on the scale can change your pressure digits too.

"You want to work on those things you can control. We can control what we eat,” said Dr. Mitra. "Salt is the fuel that feeds the fire for high blood pressure."

Doctors say most of the sodium in our diet comes from adding it to foods, but you can also learn to read labels. Look for the words soda or sodium and try to stay under 150 Milligrams.

Local experts say lifestyle changes will be the immediate impact for new Americans affected.

Dr. Joyce Simpson of the Medical Foundation says, "“The guidelines recognize the strong risk associated with any degree of elevated blood pressure and encourage patients and providers to take significant action to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Most of those who are newly diagnosed due to the guideline update will be advised to take action (dietary changes and increased physical activity, for example) … and may not require medication immediately."

"People need to empower themselves with their own health,” Dr. Mitra said.

Mitra says for people who have high blood pressure he recommends a blood pressure cuff at home to monitor in on their own.

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