New data shows half of Sioux Falls residents are at risk for high blood pressure

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Earlier this week, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new guidelines for high blood pressure. New data shows about 51 percent of Sioux Falls residents tested are at risk under the new guidelines.

Doctors call high blood pressure a "silent killer" because there are no symptoms, but it can have a huge impact on your health.

"If you're over 120 systolic blood pressure, no matter how old of an adult you are, you should be concerned, because this is elevated blood pressure," Dr. Adam Stys, a cardiologist at Sanford Heart Hospital said.

Before, anything under 130 over 90 was considered good, but now, you'll want those numbers to fall under 120 over 80.

"130 to 139 systolic is stage one hypertension, which is different from pre-hypertensive," Dr. Stys said. "If it's over 140, it's stage two."

While many believe the risks are only associated with heart health -- heart disease, stroke and heart failure, high blood pressure can actually have other effects on the body.

"It's one of the main reasons for kidney failure in the country," Dr. Stys said. "It can cause problems with walking, problems with sexual function -- especially in males -- in addition to stroke and heart attack. Also it can cause problems with, for example, digestion."

But the new numbers don't necessarily mean your doc wants to dole out drugs.

"The cornerstone of blood pressure management is lifestyle changes," Chrissy Meyer, Communications Director for the American Heart Association of North and South Dakota said.

Meyer said lots of people in Sioux Falls are going to have to start making some of those lifestyle changes soon.

In the AHA's "Big Squeeze" partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services in Sioux Falls, they found an alarming number of people who are pre-hypertensive or hypertensive under the new guidelines and now, they'll have to determine what stages those people examined fall under.

"What we have learned with our partnership with the Sioux Falls Department of Health, our 2017 numbers, show that under these new guidelines roughly 51 percent of those we screened would be considered hypertensive now," Meyer said.

But if you're young and you happen to fall into those categories, there are things you can do to help manage high blood pressure.

"We really think about this [the lifestyle changes] in terms of a three legged stool," Meyer said. "So smoking cessation -- if you're a smoker, you have to quit-- number two is diet and number three is physical activity."

Meyer said lowering sodium intake and eating more fruits and vegetables can make a huge difference in changing one's diet and the AHA recommends just 150 minutes of exercise per week. Meyer said exercise doesn't have to be incredibly strenuous, you can just walk the dog.