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Lee Health is a nationally recognized, award-winning health system in Southwest Florida. We are caring people, inspiring health.

It’s a normal part of your doctor’s visit, but recent changes to blood pressure guidelines may cause you to pay more attention to your blood pressure numbers. “The new guidelines actually narrow the number, so actually 120/80 is considered normal,” explained Nancy Roberts, a parish nurse manager with Lee Health.

The recent change is due in part to the growing number of Americans living with high blood pressure. “High blood pressure affects so many different organs in the body-your heart, your liver, your lungs, your brain, your cardiovascular system in general,” she said.

Things like elevated weight, stress, and lack of exercise can cause high blood pressure—which is why health experts recommend lifestyle modifications to get your numbers under control. “Lifestyle modifications have to do with exercise, with eating, with stress control, all of those things,” said Roberts.

Chronically high blood pressure can lead to a stroke or heart attack. “If someone has chronically high blood pressure, what happens is, it means that the vessels of the body have lost their elasticity or their center has become smaller,” she said.

Studies show genetics only play about a two percent role in your blood pressure—meaning your health is really in your hands. “They need to know what their blood pressure is and they need to know what’s normal and what’s abnormal for them,” said Roberts.

Maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress and having regular physical activity can help to keep your blood pressure under control.