For the first time in over a decade the American Heart Association has changed the guidelines defining high blood pressure.
On Monday, November 13th, the American Heart Association redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80 rather than 140 over 90. One in three U.S adults have high blood pressure, but with these new guidelines that number would increase to nearly half the population.
Osteopathy Doctor Anita Stewart said high pressure is a very prevalent disease in the U.S., here in West Virginia is no different.
"70-80 percent of patients we see here in West Virginia likely have some type of high blood pressure," said Stewart.
There are a few factors that can cause high blood pressure like family history and lifestyle choices. Dr. Stewart said with West Virginia being one of the unhealthiest states, there are more likely to be issues with cardiovascular health including high blood pressure. However, there are several ways it can be treated.
"The first line treatment is diet and exercise and we would typically do a 3 month trial of that. A lot of patients when you are talking to them about the complications and what's going on, are pretty motivated to make those lifestyle changes," Stewart said.
Medication is another form of treating high blood pressure.
Dr. Stewart also said people who were already at risk before these new guidelines will still be at risk for high blood pressure. She also added everyone can benefit by taking better care of their bodies.
The American Heart Association's guidelines say although the percentage of people who will be diagnosed with high blood pressure will go up, there will only be a small increase in those people who will be prescribed medication.