Recently, the National Institutes of Health revised their guidelines for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure. This is the first time the Institutes modified normal readings since 1997. The modifications included a new “normal” when assessing blood pressure. The change in the definition of normal blood pressure impacted nearly 45 million Americans.
What was categorized as normal to high-normal blood pressure is now categorized as prehypertension. This new category reveals a systolic pressure reading (top number) as 120-139 mm Hg and a diastolic pressure (bottom number) of 80-89 mm Hg.
Within the prehypertension range, doctors are placing an emphasis on prevention. If you fall into this category, do not be alarmed, but be ready to do something about it. Doctors state that the best medication and prevention measure is motivation. Exercise, weight loss, reduction in salt intake, and moderate use of alcohol can improve the blood pressure greatly.
The normal range for blood pressure and the category you want to be is a systolic number of less than 120 and a diastolic number of less than 80. This is the new normal range.
Is High Blood Pressure a Secret Killer?
One in every four adults has high blood pressure in the United States. But, many people do not know they have an at-risk condition. When hypertension is untreated and uncared for the risk of heart disease and stroke increases. Both heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of death in the United States. High blood pressure is a precursor for both conditions and is considered a secret killer.
What Can You Do to Prevent, Delay, and Treat High Blood Pressure?
Procrastination does not pay, especially when your heart’s involved. Putting off treatment of your high blood pressure could be detrimental to your health. It is important to keep an eye on the top number, especially as a person ages.
Practical ways to prevent, delay, and treat your high blood pressure is by:
- Immediately reducing salt intake. Cut back on sodium and you will immediately see the numbers decrease. When a person cuts back on salt the blood pressure falls and remains relatively stable. Salt reduction is a quick and helpful fix.
- Get regular exercise. People who are active and get regular exercise on a daily basis are able to cut their blood pressure by 20-50 percent. This does not mean you must sign up for the next 10K. Even light activities, if done regularly, can aid in lowering your blood pressure. Moving some is better than moving none.
- Eliminate stress. While it may be impossible to eliminate all of the stress in your life, taking simple steps to improve stress levels is beneficial. Stress causes the blood pressure to increase, and over time may contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. When a person is overweight they are six times more likely to develop high blood pressure. Even losing ten pounds can cause the blood pressure to drop.
- Consume alcohol in moderation. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol raises blood pressure. To help lower the level, limit the amount of alcohol consumed to no more than two drinks each day.
Other helpful ways to improve blood pressure and prevent levels from increasing is to consume fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids), increase magnesium and calcium in the diet, and consume garlic.
If you are concerned about your blood pressure, we at Associated Internists of Macomb, P.C. can help. Call us today at 586-726-5566 for your appointment.