Your blood pressure readings haven’t move single digit but as of Monday, you may suddenly have hypertension. The American Heart Association (AHA) has changed the guidelines for healthy blood pressure, to possibly include as many as 50% of American adults.
High blood pressure is the leading cause of death worldwide, and second only to smoking as a preventable cause of death in the United States. Having high blood pressure means that the force of your blood pushing on your veins and arteries is too hard. This leads to damaged blood vessels that function poorly, damaging the heart as well.
More than 50% of heart disease and stroke fatalities are caused by high blood pressure. Previously, the AHA formally defined high blood pressure as any reading of 140/90 or above. At this level, about 32% of American were diagnosed with high blood pressure. Now, the guideline is 130/80 and above.
When your blood pressure reading is 121-129/80, Vascular Specialists or your primary care physician will warn you about your elevated blood pressure status. With diet and lifestyle changes, such as eating more fresh fruits and dark leafy vegetables, leaner meats and fewer processed foods, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol and increasing exercise, you may be able to lower your blood pressure within three to six months.
130-139/80-89 is now considered stage 1 high blood pressure, which means you are at risk of developing heart disease and stroke within the next 10 years. Talk to your Vascular Specialists medical professional or your primary care physician about taking more serious steps to lower your blood pressure. Quitting smoking is a must, along with cutting back alcohol. It will mean paying strict attention to your diet, cutting out white bread and pastas and replacing them with whole grains, avoiding processed and high-salt foods completely including canned soups and vegetables, and enjoying more fresh vegetables, salmon and skinless poultry. It also means increasing your activity and adding more cardio, such as running, swimming, Zumba and other fast-paced, get-your-blood-pumping exercises.
You should be reassessed in three to six months to see if these changes are working or if medication is needed to bring your blood pressure into the desired range.
If your blood pressure is over 140/90, you’re considered stage 2 high blood pressure and immediate action should be taken. Vascular Specialists or your primary care physician will prescribe medication along with diet and activity changes with monthly follow ups to ensure the medications are bringing your blood pressure back to healthy levels. You must quit smoking, drastically reduce alcohol intake, change your diet significantly and increase exercise dramatically.
Only 20% of people now affected by the new guidelines will actually need medication, as lifestyle and diet changes can be extremely effective in lowering elevated and stage 1 blood pressure. Medication is not recommended as the first round of therapy.
Genetics, age, gender and race are fixed factors for stroke and heart disease, elements about your health that you cannot change. High blood pressure is one of the preventable risk factors. By properly following your medical professional’s guidance to lower blood pressure through smoking and alcohol cessation, healthy eating and better exercise, you’ll be resolving other preventable risk factors as well.
If you have questions about your blood pressure or general health or wish to make an appointment with Vascular Specialists, just reply to this email! We will be happy to help!