High blood pressure has now been redefined as being greater than 130/80 mmHg, down from 140/90 mmHg. This will mean close to 103 million more Americans will fall under the “hypertensive” category.
Multiple agencies, including the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, redefined the guidelines, in practice for the last 14 years, to lower the threshold for high blood pressure from 140/90 to 130/80.
Under the old guidelines, 1/3 of US Americans were considered to have high blood pressure. Now 42% of Americans will be “hypertensive.”
In lowering the guidelines, task force members hope to reduce complications associated with high blood pressure and start treatment earlier in those who have not been treated.
The top number, or systolic pressure, is the pressure the heart exudes during a beat or pumping of the blood.
Diastolic pressure is the pressure in your arteries between beats while the heart is “filling.” Both numbers are equally important as elevation of either can increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chronic high blood pressure can be dangerous. It may cause:
Eye damage – vision loss
Erectile dysfunction…to name a few.
The stages of blood pressure are defined in the chart above. At the elevated or early stages of high blood pressure the following lifestyle changes will be recommended:
Low salt diet
Low fat diet
Good sleep habits
Avoiding tobacco products
Limiting alcohol consumption
As a family physician I would also screen for diabetes, high cholesterol, low thyroid, kidney disease and sleep apnea.
If blood pressure cannot be controlled and continues to rise, medications may be prescribed to decrease blood volume, or lower the heart rate, or relax the blood vessels.
Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD, FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.