High blood pressure is often referred to as the silent killer, that’s because most people who suffer from the condition don’t show any symptoms. If left untreated, high blood pressure could lead to deadly heart problems including heart attacks and strokes

“Almost 50 percent of individuals, over the age of 40, will be classified to have hypertension, high blood pressure or will develop high blood pressure,” said Dr. J. Mehta, a distinguished professor with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

Dr. Mehta, said that number spiked with the new hypertension diagnosis guidelines, released in 2017 by the American Heart Association. The new criteria considers a blood pressure of 120 over 80, or higher, as the first stage of hypertension.

“It is estimated that if we adapt HAS’s new guidelines then we will have ten million more patients to be treated,” Dr. Mehta, said.

One ethnic group affected the most.

“Especially in the African American population the incidents of hypertension is much higher and they tend to have more complications, especially strokes,” Dr. Mehta, said.

Although high blood pressure may not cause any symptoms, the condition can have a serious toll on one’s body.

“High blood pressure or high numbers are associated definitely with increased cardiovascular events,” Dr. Mehta, said.

Those events include heart attacks and strokes, both can be deadly. Fortunately, Dr. Mehta says, doctors are finding more effective ways to regulate the condition.

“We are learning for example that the use of two medications to start with is much more effective in controlling blood pressure than one,” Dr. Mehta, said.

He said, in the past, doctors often prescribed a diuretic as the first measure to lower blood pressure.

“But now we are learning that diuretics may not be the first drug, meta blockers may not be the first drug and maybe combination of calcium blockers and inhibiters might be a better option,” Dr. Mehta, said.

Doctors said, aside from new medications, various lifestyle changes can also help lower blood pressure including weight loss, a better diet, increased exercise, and believe it or not, meditation.

“Recently we are learning that some other lifestyle modifications like mindfulness or yoga can lower your blood pressure significantly,” Dr. Mehta, said.

He said although both practices have been around for thousands of years, new research shows how effective they are in lowering blood pressure.

“I think now more involved people are becoming more familiar with it and they’re learning the benefits of those modes of therapy,” Dr. Mehta, said.

Dr. Mehta said, the most important practice when it comes to high blood pressure is being proactive by detecting the condition in time.

“I suggest that everyone over the age of 18 to once in a while check your blood pressure,” Dr. Mehta, said.

He says, that can easily be accomplished with readily available resources.

“If you go to the malls, Walmart, Kroger, there are blood pressure machines,” Dr. Mehta, said.

What may seem like a silly task, could end up saving your life.