Millions more people around the world have high blood pressure. This news came earlier this week when the American Heart Association (AHA) changed the numbers at which high blood pressure starts. For many decades, doctors said high blood pressure started at a reading of 140 over 90. The AHA has changed this and said the disease should be treated sooner. It said high blood pressure now starts at a reading of 130 over 80. Blood pressure happens when your heart pushes blood around your body too fast. If this pushing is too strong, it can put stress on your heart and arteries. This can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Normal blood pressure is less than 120 over 80.
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AHA doctors said health problems can happen at the lower figures of 130 over 80. However, they said it is possible for people to deal with this level of blood pressure without taking medicine. They said the new reading is, "a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches". People with high blood pressure need to make healthy lifestyle changes. These include losing weight, exercising more, eating healthier food, avoiding alcohol and salt, quitting smoking and avoiding stress. The new reading of 130 over 80 now means that nearly half (46 per cent) of the adult population of the USA has high blood pressure. This rose from 32 per cent using the old numbers.