Do you know what your blood pressure is? The American Heart Association (AHA) encourages everyone to know his or her key markers for heart health, which includes blood pressure. This has become increasingly important in the last few weeks as the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and the AHA, along with nine other health professional organizations and a panel of 21 scientists and health experts, have developed new blood pressure guidelines for the first time since 2003.
The new Blood pressure categories are as follows:
- Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;
- Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80;
- Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;
- Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;
- Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120.
The top number of the measurement (systolic) indicates the amount of pressure against artery walls when the heart contracts, while the bottom number (diastolic) refers to the pressure when the heart is resting between beats.
The 2003 guidelines considered Stage 1 hypertension to be equal to or greater than 140/90, whereas now Stage 1 is measured as 130/80 or greater. Those who were previously diagnosed with pre-hypertension are now labeled as having elevated blood pressure. This change will result in nearly half of the U.S. adult population (about 46 percent) having high blood pressure, with the greatest impact expected among younger people. Additionally, the prevalence of high blood pressure is expected to triple among men under age 45, and double among women under age 45, according to the guideline authors.
Why were the guidelines changed?
One reason for this change was that those who were previously diagnosed with pre-hypertension were at double the risk for a heart attack compared to someone with normal blood pressure. The new blood pressure classifications will allow clinicians to offer an earlier intervention, in the hopes of reducing the risks for cardiac events.
The new guidelines remind us that high blood pressure, in general, is not something we should ignore. It’s a major risk factor for heart disease, second perhaps only to smoking. However, most people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it. The guidelines aim to aid in not only the prevention, but also in the early treatment of hypertension, in order to overcome this public health challenge.
Despite the alarming number of people who will now be labeled hypertensive, almost none of the newly labeled hypertensive people (those with systolic blood pressure between 130 and 140) should be placed on medications., Fortunately, most doctors will consider advising lifestyle changes, especially a low sodium diet and adequate exercise.
The Paleo Diet would be a more logical approach than a low sodium version of the modern diet for anyone seeking to lower high blood pressure or to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Benefits of The Paleo Diet for Healthy Blood Pressure
Although The Paleo Diet is naturally low in sodium, it offers further benefits to achieving a healthy blood pressure. The Paleo Diet is higher in potassium, which has been linked to lower blood pressures. Potassium is also believed to have protective cardiovascular benefits that may be one factor contributing to the rarity of elevated blood pressures among hunter–gatherer populations. Swiss chard, spinach, and avocados are examples of potassium rich foods.
The Paleo Diet consists of whole, unprocessed foods and is naturally low in sugar. The rise of modern disease can be linked to the evolution of the modern diet, consisting of heavily processed foods., In addition to the added sodium, processed foods are also preserved and their flavor is enhanced through the addition of refined sugar. These added sugars, for which there are at least 56 different names , have also been linked to an increase in hypertension. ,
We encourage you to know your blood pressure number and to follow The Paleo Diet for heart health.
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