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Indiana ranked 10th fattest state, blood pressure guidelines change

MISHAWAKA, Ind. --- How much do you know about your health?

New blood pressure guidelines were announced on Monday, lowering the standard for what is considered hypertension. 

Hypertension puts people more at risk for developing health problems down the road.

"Americans need to be more aggressively treated and they need to alter their lifestyle," says Dr. Ashfaq Turk, a cardiologist at the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka. 

Especially Hoosiers.

"Hoosiers are at high risk for heart attacks and strokes, because of obesity," he adds.

Indiana was recently named the tenth fattest state, in a study by Wallet Hub.

Dr. Turk says he's not surprised.

"No, because I see it everyday," he explains.

This study comes at the same time that the national blood pressure guidelines changed drastically.

"Previously, a blood pressure of 140 over 90 was considered normal," describes Dr. Turk. "Now, 130/80 is normal. And anything above that should be considered hypertension."

What does that really meaan?

It means, according to these new guidelines, more Americans have high blood pressure.

This puts them at risk for developing all sorts of medical problems.

Dr. Turk says, this definitely a wakeup call. 

"Lifestyle. You have to change your dietary habits," he adds. "The smoking has been on some decline. but we're still one of the states where smoking rates are very high. And exercise is important, too."

Medication only will help to a certain degree, he says.

Eating right is crucial. 

"I think it's a step in the right direction to help us manage our health and use it as a prevention measure, instead of a reactionary measure," says Erin Hurst.

Hurst is a clinical dietitian. 

She explains, instead of treating the symptoms and problems, people should be trying to prevent them in the first place.

"Given the rates of overweight and obesity across the country, I think it's very eye opening," says Hurst. "It's a point in time where we should be ready to address the needs of our community. Here, it's heart health and weight management." 

Both Dr. Turk and Hurst say, it's always important to keep track of your numbers and visit your physician. 

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