How the New Blood Pressure Guidelines May Put Lives at Risk
7 minute read
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects millions of people worldwide and contributes to other serious diseases. This condition is already running rampant through our country, so our focus is to improve the situation. As obvious as this may seem, new guidelines released regarding blood pressure just made the situation worse, says a recent report from the University of Sydney.
The recent recommendations released from the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology state the following:
♦ The threshold for diagnosing hypertension in adults is to be lowered from 140/80 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg.
♦ The threshold for drug treatment of “high-risk” adults with hypertension who have existing cardiovascular disease is to be lowered from 140/80 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg.
♦ The threshold for drug treatment of adults with a calculated 10-year cardiovascular disease risk, such as those with diabetes or renal disease, is to be lowered from 140/80 mmHg to 130/80 mmHg.
It might seem strange to disagree so explicitly with such august institutions, but there is good reason for it.
From Bad to Worse
Since the definition of high blood pressure is broader now, more people can be labelled as unwell. Even those with a minimal risk can now be categorized as sick according to the new guidelines.
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The problem with applying this label is that it increases the chances of an individual developing anxiety and depression. You can take two people with the same blood pressure numbers, but the one labeled as “high blood pressure” will likely develop mental health issues.
Lowering the threshold for medication administration also means that more people could experience adverse reactions to treatments. These individuals with lower blood pressure readings may not tolerate the drugs or treatments the same as those that they were designed for.
The treatments were developed to help with the higher numbers, and the new ones may respond in a negative way.
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The substantial number of people now diagnosed with hypertension have a minimal risk of any cardiovascular problems and will not be recommended for drug treatment. The popular response to this is that they never should have been labelled at all and could have perhaps been well served by other treatments, such as dietary supplements.
The issuing of medication should only be reserved for those with a risk of developing heart disease, which is why the new guidelines are quickly becoming unpopular.
Guide for the Newly Diagnosed
For the large number of individuals that are now labelled as having hypertension according to the new guide, there is likely to be some concern about your health. Are you actually sick now?
Given that you are not quite high-risk, you will not be given treatment, so should you be concerned? Rather than being concerned with their new label, you would be better off using the current information to your advantage.
With your blood pressure numbers now in a range worthy of concern, you can take the opportunity to make some lifestyle changes to make sure your blood pressure doesn’t reach any higher readings. You may not be at risk for heart problems yet, but it is never too late to make heart health a priority.
These simple changes can help to keep your blood pressure under control and protect you from becoming high-risk.
Lose Weight: As your weight increases so does your blood pressure. Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to lower blood pressure, especially if you are carrying extra weight around your waist. Excess abdominal fat increases blood pressure and your risk for heart disease.
Eat Healthy: A diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. You also need to reduce your intake of saturated fats as these increase cholesterol levels, which raises blood pressure. Changing your diet can be challenging, so you should keep a food diary to help stay on track.
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Exercise: Regular physical activity such as thirty minutes a day or 150 minutes a week can lower blood pressure. If you do have hypertension, you need to maintain a regular exercise schedule because stopping could cause your numbers to rise again.
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The best exercises to try are aerobic, such as swimming, jogging, and even walking. With your numbers being high, exercise is the best way to prevent them from reaching hypertension levels.
Reduce Sodium: High sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure, so even the smallest reduction can lower your numbers. Do not add salt to any meals and make sure you check labels for hidden salt. Processed foods contain substantial amounts of sodium, so these should be avoided entirely. If salt is a regular part of your diet, you can ease into cutting back slowly to give your palate time to adjust.
Quit Smoking: Smoking interferes with your body’s ability to transport oxygen. For all your cells and tissues to get the oxygen they need your heart must work harder to pump blood which increases blood pressure. Smoking has such an impact on blood pressure that it can start to lower minutes after you quit. It’s worth mentioning, that vaping can also be hazardous.
Limit Alcohol Intake: Alcohol is both good and bad for you. In moderation, alcohol can potentially lower your blood pressure, but this helpful effect will be lost if you drink too much. The more you drink, the higher your blood pressure can get, and it also interferes with blood pressure medications.
Reduce Stress: Everyone experiences some level of stress, but chronic stress contributes to hypertension. The reason being that stress causes overeating, smoking and drinking. Focus on what you can control and make time to relax every day.
Once you identify stress triggers, avoid them and begin practicing meditation and gratitude.
The Bottom Line
Your blood pressure is a good indicator of your overall health. When it gets too high, you may be at risk for serious health problems. Whether you meet the new guidelines or not, controlling your blood pressure and protecting your heart will increase your health and well-being.
While the new blood pressure guidelines have certainly caused some controversy, there’s nothing that changes the fact that hypertension is very bad. Improving your health is a priority, so don’t focus on some new label—focus on some new heart-healthy changes instead.