In hopes that patients will talk to their doctors about high blood pressure and possible treatments sooner, heart experts have changed the guidelines for the condition. The changes will greatly increase the number of US adults who have high blood pressure.

High bold pressure is now defined as a reading of 130 over 80 and above. Previously a reading of 140 over 90 and above was the definition of high blood pressure. This is the first time in 14 years that the definition has changed.

With the change in guidelines, the percent of US adults living with high blood pressure increased to 46% from 32%. That is nearly half of all adults. And younger adults – those under 45 – saw even bigger increases.

Many people live with high blood pressure and don’t know it. Getting a blood pressure reading by a health professional is the only way to know for sure – there are usually no signs or symptoms. Some symptoms may appear if blood pressure rises or falls quickly:

  • Dull headaches
  • Dizzy spells
  • Unusual nosebleeds

High blood pressure can be deadly if not treated, so it is important to take a diagnosis seriously. Lifestyle changes can help control high blood pressure:

  • Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products
  • Limit use of ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly – try to get it 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week

Talk to a health professional to get more information about high blood pressure.