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Almost half of U.S. population now with high blood pressure

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ABILENE, Texas - It's known as the "silent killer" and nearly half of the U.S. population now has high blood pressure after new guidelines were presented on Monday. The new high is 130/80 instead of 140/90.

It's the first change in 14 years, the guidelines were presented at the Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California on Monday.

Now 46 percent of the U.S. has high blood pressure rather than the 32 percent before the change.

Cardiologist Dr. Ren Zhang at Hendrick Medical Center said this isn't really a change, it's more of a re-labeling. He said you might not need to make an appointment with a doctor.

"Don't wait until your blood pressure is 150/90, so when you're 120 it's good, 130 start thinking about it, it gets a little higher, 130 to 140 you really have to start a lifestyle change and not necessarily have to call the doctor's office," Zhang said.

According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure accounts for the second-largest number of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths.

A diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean you need to start taking medication.

What can you do to lower your blood pressure?

Doctors say you should maintain a healthy weight, exercise, and eat a balanced/ low-salt diet and lower your alcohol consumption.

Zhang said it's important to stay aware of your health.

"Don't wait too late, don't wait until you become a stage two hypertension," Zhang said. "Maybe you should do something now instead of waiting later."

Zhang also said the guidelines for high blood pressure are different for diabetic patients because it's more aggressive.

Hendrick Medical Center will have free health screenings and consultations in February.

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