Millions of Americans are being told to look at their numbers after the American Heart Association (AHA), American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations gave a major overhaul to blood pressure guidelines.
Previously, 140/90 or more was considered high blood pressure, but now it's 130/80. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.
"There are millions of people that fall into this category that's now called Stage One Hypertension who previously we were calling normal blood pressures," Cardiology Director for the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Hartford Healthcare Corporation at MidState Medical Center Dr. Bill Farrell said.
Previously, the AHA said 32 percent of adults in the U.S. had high blood pressure (hypertension) but with the new guidelines, about 46 percent have hypertension.
"It's very clear that their future risk of heart attack and stroke down the road is nearly doubled compared to patients with lower numbers," Farrell said.
Experts expect the new guidelines will greatly impact younger people, with high blood pressure expected to triple among men under 45 and double among women under 45.
Farrell said those impacted will need to see their doctor.
"They need to see their provider, talk about blood pressure, where are the opportunities to bring that blood pressure down in terms of lifestyle intervention. And for those patients that are at highest risk, those that have had a cardiovascular event in the past, stroke or heart attack, or have diabetes, those are the kind of people we're going to be adding medication for it to bring their blood pressures down," Farrell said.
Experts said the majority of Americans affected won't need medication but will need to make lifestyle changes.
"I think the goal of the new guidelines is to get blood pressure on the radar for those at-risk patients, to make the diagnosis, to get them to do some lifestyle changes. Whether it's diet and exercise, reducing salt in their diet, controlling their weight, by actually giving them the diagnosis of hypertension and treating it with lifestyle intervention, it affords them the opportunity to get out in front of treating that and lower their risk going forward," Farrell said.
For more information on the new guidelines, click here.