An alarming number of Americans suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension.

Dr. Mathew Devine, the Medical Director for Accountable Health Partners and the Associate Medical Director for Highland Family Medicine, discussed the condition Friday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“It’s been estimated in the U.S. the adult population is about a third,” Dr. Devine said of those who suffer from hypertension. “The Common Ground Health — formerly the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency — has been able to do a very detailed data composite over the last five years, and it comes out to about thirty five percent of adults in the outlining eight counties have, what’s quoted as, high blood pressure.”

Dr. Devine said if it’s not controlled, people with high blood pressure can be more at risk for heart attack, stroke, or kidney disease, which ultimately lead to an earlier death. “So mainly it’s something that kind of gets worse as we age, as well as African-American populations are at a higher prevalence.”

Measuring blood pressure is simple and effective. “With all of the advances in technology, we still have a really easy way of checking it in the office,” noted Dr. Devine. “When you go in to see your doctor you get your vital signs taken. You’re supposed to take your shirt off. They kind of take out a little cuff, wrap it around your arm, and that’s really how we check the blood pressure. And that can be a very accurate report of how we kind of check it and see what that value shows us.”

Doctors are looking for certain numbers to determine if you have healthy blood pressure. “There’s two numbers. There’s a top number, systolic, and a bottom number, diastolic. We’re really shooting for 120 over 80, is what we’re really what we’re kind of aiming at. It depends on your age, of course, but that’s kind of the magic number that we’re shooting for.”

When it comes to hypertension, there are two stages. “Stage 2 is when that blood pressure is above 160 and above 100, and that can be pretty dangerous,” said Dr. Devine. “Most people aren’t aware that their blood pressure is elevated until it’s in those extremes. So when that number gets close to that 200 number, it can be. So really what this is meant to do, it’s meant to check a proper blood pressure where you’re silent, your feet are flat, your back is straight, and your arm is at your heart’s level. You get your bare arm into that cuff to really get an accurate number. Once it’s there, knowing what that number is– because if it is that kind of top number, we really want to drop that down with some lifestyle changes, such as exercise, diet changes and sometimes, medications.”