The New Blood Pressure Guidelines: What do they mean for you?
According to new guidelines, over half of the American population now meets the diagnostic criteria for hypertension. But you probably want to know what this means for you. In this article, we will answer your questions and discuss the new criteria.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension occurs when there is increased pressure in the vasculature. This can be dangerous because, over time, the heart has to work harder in order to pump blood out to the vital organs. It is considered a silent killer as often a patient will have high blood pressure for years before they start to see or feel the symptoms —all the while, the damage is occurring throughout the body.
What Are Some Underlying Causes of High Blood Pressure?
There are two main classifications of hypertension.
1. Primary or Essential Hypertension
For many adults, there’s no known cause of high blood pressure. This type of high blood pressure tends to creep up on you, developing gradually over many years. Some experts believe that there may be a hereditary link to primary hypertension.
2. Secondary Hypertension
High blood pressure that is caused by an underlying condition is called secondary hypertension. It often appears suddenly and causes a higher blood pressure than primary hypertension. A myriad of conditions and medications can cause secondary hypertension. These include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Adrenal tumors
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- Defects in blood vessels
- Medications like birth control pills, OTC cold remedies, decongestants, OTC pain relievers and prescription drugs
- Illegal drugs, such as speed, methamphetamine, and cocaine
- Chronic or excessive alcohol use
What Are Some Symptoms of Hypertension?
It’s important to keep in mind that many people suffering from hypertension report no symptoms, therefore you need to have your blood pressure checked regularly, even if you are feeling fine. Some patients with high blood pressure may experience headaches, visual disturbances, shortness of breath, and nosebleeds. Often these signs don’t occur until high blood pressure is at a severe or life-threatening stage.
What Other Diseases Are Associated with High Blood Pressure?
Chronic or uncontrolled hypertension increases the likelihood of certain comorbidities such as:
- Hardening of the arteries
- Kidney disease
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
What Are the New Guidelines?
In June 2017, a large-scale retrospective analysis of data from hypertension patients revealed that the risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality was significantly lower in patients who attained a target blood pressure of 130/80 or below. Previously, the threshold for clinical hypertension was 140/90.
What Are the Recommendations for This New Group with Low-Level Hypertension?
Under the new guidelines, the number of men under 45 with high blood pressure will triple, while the number of women under 45 with high blood pressure will double. Roughly two percent of these patients will receive some type of medication, the first prescription will always be lifestyle modification. These are things that everyone can do to get their blood pressure back to the normal range. They include:
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Getting regular exercise
- Stopping smoking
- Controlling weight
- Eating healthy
How Is Hypertension Staged?
It is important that healthcare providers follow the standards to accurately measure blood pressure. After obtaining an average, patients should be categorized as follows:
- Normal BP is defined as </=120/80 mm Hg
- Elevated BP 120-129/</=80 mm Hg
- Hypertension stage 1 is 130-139 / 80-89 mm Hg, and
- Hypertension stage 2 is ≥140 / ≥90 mm Hg
How Can the Paleo Diet Help with My Blood Pressure Levels?
First and foremost, the Paleo diet is great for hypertensive patients because it is centered around clean eating. We know that processed foods are loaded with salt, preservatives, and other chemicals that can worsen high blood pressure. Secondly, research shows that patients on low-carbohydrate diets like Keto and Paleo have a lower incidence of high blood pressure when compared to the patients eating a traditional low-fat diet.
So, there you have it. In a nutshell, doctors are hopeful that these new guidelines along with lifestyle changes, and a healthy diet will prevent tens of thousands of strokes and heart attacks each year. Do you know your numbers?