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The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association have changed their guidelines for high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. The new guidelines will help treat hypertension earlier, at 130/80 mm Hg rather than the previous guideline of 140/90.  That could mean nearly half of all Americans are in the treatable range for high blood pressure.

This does not necessarily mean that you need to start taking medication. But it does mean that you can identify the problem now and reduce future risks.

What you need to know about high blood pressure:

Check your numbers often

Make sure to have your blood pressure checked at least once a year. This will help you and your doctor keep track and reduce your risk of any complications.

Adopt a heart-healthy diet

By changing your diet, you can help treat or prevent high blood pressure. A heart-healthy diet includes foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy foods, fish, poultry and nuts. Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Avoid salt

Many foods that Americans enjoy have high levels of sodium, including pizzas, breads, deli meats, most restaurant-prepared foods and frozen foods. The best way to control your sodium intake is to eat more meals that are prepared at home, using ingredients created “from scratch.” Instead of salting your food, use dried or fresh herbs and spices.

Get active

Exercise helps lower high blood pressure and is a great way to ensure your blood pressure remains in a healthy range. Get in the habit of doing some type of physical activity every day.

High blood pressure is the second-highest cause of death in the U.S., so it is very important to speak with a cardiologist if you have any questions or concerns. This is especially true with the new guidelines, which will put more Americans in the at-risk population for heart disease.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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