That means their systolic blood pressure (the first number) is at least 140 mm HG and/or their diastolic blood pressure (the second number) is 90 mm Hg or higher.
They're not the only ones with blood pressure problems. Another 25% of American adults have a borderline condition called "prehypertension."
Checking blood pressure is simple. The test doesn't even require a trip to the doctor, says the AHA.
For the first time in a decade, the AHA has updated its recommendations for blood pressure screening. At-home devices fared well.
The machines were studied by heart experts including Thomas Pickering, MD, DPhil, of New York's Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. They found that proper use of the devices did a fine job of tracking blood pressure.
In fact, the machines had several advantages over those in doctors' offices. They cut the "white coat" effect, in which blood pressure spikes due to the anxiety of being in a clinical setting, eliminated the error introduced when doing manual blood pressure measurements, and the machines were also more convenient, especially for tracking blood pressure at night or throughout the day.
The report, published in the journal Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, didn't mention specific brands. At-home blood pressure machines sell for about $50-$100.
The experts do support the use of electronic monitors that take the blood pressure in the upper arm rather than the wrist or finger.
Planning to try one? Here are some pointers for accurate results:
- Sit in a chair and relax for a few minutes before the test.
- Don't cross your legs or talk.
- Place your arm at heart level.
- Support your arm and back.
- Use a properly sized cuff. Obese people and kids may need different sizes.
- Place the cuff on bare skin.
Health care providers can check the devices and offer more advice on technique.