Do you know your blood pressure numbers? About 47% of adults in the United States have hypertension, or high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases a person’s risk for a future heart attack, stroke, heart failure and/or kidney disease. For this reason, it’s vital that everyone know their numbers, understand whether they have high blood pressure and take steps to lower it.
What you should know about high blood pressure:
- Any adult with an average blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg or higher meets the criteria for a hypertension diagnosis.
- You should check your blood pressure at home, even if it was normal during a recent clinic visit.
- If you already have high blood pressure, keeping an eye on your blood pressure at home will help make sure it’s in a healthy range.
- An upper arm cuff with an automatic monitor (available at many drug stores and pharmacies) works great.
What can I do to improve my blood pressure?
You can take a few key steps to maintain healthy blood pressure levels:
- Enjoy a well-balanced, low-salt diet.
- Limit alcohol.
- Exercise regularly.
- Manage stress.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, your doctor might suggest that you start taking blood pressure medication. These drugs are generally safe if taken as prescribed, and can really do a lot to improve your blood pressure.
Sources: American College of Cardiology. “New ACC/AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines Lower Definition of Hypertension” (Nov. 13, 2017), (accessed June 12, 2022), available at acc.org. Dr. Matthew Tattersall, “Understanding the AHA High Blood Pressure Guidelines,” (accessed June 12, 2022), available at uwhealth.org, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Hypertension Cascade: Hypertension Prevalence, Treatment and Control Estimates Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 Years and Older Applying the Criteria from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s 2017 Hypertension Guideline,” (March 22, 2021), (accessed June 12, 2022).