What to know about the new guidelines on high blood pressure

Dr. Jennifer Ashton discusses what you should know about the American Heart Association's new definition of hypertension, live on "GMA."
2:43 | 11/14/17

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Transcript for What to know about the new guidelines on high blood pressure
All right, Lara, thank you. To that important health alert about high blood pressure. The American heart association changing the guidelines meaning almost half of American adults could now be living with what's called the silent killer affecting men and women and our chief medical contributor, Dr. Jen Ashton is here to talk about that. And you checked Jennifer's numbers. I did. I checked Jennifer's numbers. She gave me permission to share them. It was a little bit high. We did check it twice. She's on national TV. That's right. We'll cut her some slack. Her heart rate was elevated. 154 over 100, Jen. We did suggest she get it checked again. This is medical news that could -- What do we need to know. New guidelines. Old guidelines if you had a number of 140 over 90 you were classified as having hypertension. Now that dropped to 130 over 80 reflecting the fact we know damage can occur at lower numbers so, again, very important for people to know these numbers and it will affect a lot more people. It will double the number of women under the age of 45 who meet criteria for having hypertension, a lot Moore people involved. Will this be a lot more people on medication. Actually it won't. The key here this should be managed with lifestyle modification. Only expected to increase the number of people on medication by 2% but you have to take a look at these changes because these can make a big difference. Eating the right diet, the dash diet is the gold standard, fitness, cardio and weights. Lowering sodium in your diet and increasing potassium with things like avocado, bananas and salmon and limiting alcohol, no more than two drinks a day for men, one for women can lower those numbers by anywhere from 11 points and every point matters. You want to show us what high blood pressure does to the body. I think we hear it as the silent killer. You have to understand that high blood pressure affects@ organs like the kidney, the eyes, the heart, the blood vessels but I want you to look at this demonstration. If you imagine this pump as the heart and this as your blood vessels. Your vascular system, with Normal blood pressure it's easy to pump. Once you have high blood pressure you have increased resistance in these blood vessels, that pump has to work harvarder to circulate the blood and over time this does major damage. So what should people do right now. I think the key thing is you need to know your numbers and we've heard about white coat hypertension. People go to the doctor and blood pressure gets elevated but get one of these home kits. Check your blood pressure at home. Make sure you're doing it on a bare arm. Larger arms you need to use a larger Cuffee. Good. All good advice there. Jen, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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