Check Your Health: Blood Pressure Guidelines

Check Your Health - Blood Pressure Guidelines

About one in three Utahans has high blood pressure but some may not know it and many don’t know how their blood pressure should be properly taken.

High blood pressure accounts for the second largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking. It’s known as the “silent killer” because often there are no symptoms, despite its role in significantly increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.

This November (2017) new guidelines on blood pressure were introduced by American Heart Association and American Cardiology Association. The new definition will add attention to the risk even slightly elevated blood pressure can have on our long term health. Hypertension is now defined by the AHA as 130/80.

A blood pressure of 130/80 can double your risk of future problems with heart disease and stroke. Physicians are going to give people a “yellow light warning” called “elevated pressure” when they get to 120/80 so people can stop smoking, attain a healthy weight, increase physical activity to lower blood pressure and reduce the chance of a heart attack or stroke.

As a patient, if you notice that your blood pressure is over 120 systolic, the top number, or 80, diastolic, the bottom number, ask your doctor if you might need more measurements of your blood pressure to see if you have hypertension. Also work with them to learn what you can do to lower your pressure and risk.

Also you can encourage your doctor’s office to ensure they are taking the most accurate measurement. You can also learn to correctly measure with an approved monitor at home.

How to correctly measure blood pressure:

  1. Sit quietly and relax for five minutes.
  2. Sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor and back supported.
  3. Make sure you or your doctor’s office are using the proper size cuff on a bare arm.
  4. Keep arm at heart level with elbow slightly bent, relaxed with palm facing up on a flat surface.
  5. If the reading is high, ask how you can have it rechecked or monitor it at home.

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