Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Blood pressure is not just another number so knowing your numbers are part of early detection, treatment, and prevention of long term complications. High blood pressure can be prevented and managed with lifestyle changes. Some individuals will require the use of medication in addition to lifestyle changes. While it is believed that approximately 46% of adults in the United States will have a diagnosis of high blood pressure, this change in how blood pressure nubmers are assessed is believed to contribute to early detection and management and not an increase in the number of adults requiring anti-hypertensive medication. The benefit of the changes is an attempt to address the complications that may occur at lower numbers as well as to encourage earlier intervention.
Know Your Numbers –
Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:
- 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, with patients needing prompt changes in medication if there are no other indications of problems, or immediate hospitalization if there are signs of organ damage.
See the release by the American College of Cardiology Here
Both eating habits and physical activity habits play a key role in the prevention and management of blood pressure. It starts with knowing your numbers and then managing your lifestyle choices as appropriate to meet your health management goals. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet is one often recommended to the general population as an overall healthful diet which promotes healthful intake of fats, unprocessed grains, whole fruits and vegetables. Talk to a registered dietitian for your individualized nutritional needs.