Changes to one’s lifestyle can help blood pres­sure

New guidelines mean more will have to fo­cus on health­ier moves

Yuma Sun - - OPINION -

New guidelines for what con­sti­tutes high blood pres­sure read­ings leave Amer­i­cans with a de­ci­sion: get health­ier, or suf­fer the con­se­quences.

Mon­day, The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion low­ered the thresh­old for high blood pres­sure, which pre­vi­ously had been de­fined as a top read­ing of at least 140 or a bot­tom one of 90. Now, the new rec­om­men­da­tions drop those num­bers to 130 over 80, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ports.

As a re­sult, 46 per­cent of U.S. adults will be iden­ti­fied as hav­ing high blood pres­sure, com­pared with 32 per­cent un­der the pre­vi­ous def­i­ni­tion, the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion notes.

Those who fall be­tween 120 and 129 will be con­sid­ered el­e­vated, and any­one at 120/80 and lower will fall into the nor­mal cat­e­gory.

So what hap­pens if you fall into the 120-129 over 80 or less cat­e­gory? The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion says doc­tors will sug­gest healthy lifestyle changes, and re­assess the blood pres­sure read­ings in six months, to see if those ac­tions im­prove the read­ings.

Healthy lifestyle changes can in­clude eat­ing a hearthealthy diet, re­duc­ing salt, and adding foods rich in potas­sium, such as bananas, pota­toes, av­o­ca­dos and dark leafy veg­gies. The Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion says other ac­tions in­clude weight loss, quit­ting smok­ing, re­duc­ing al­co­hol con­sump­tion and ex­er­cis­ing more.

For peo­ple who fall into the 130-139 over 80-89 range, they would be treated for stage 1 high blood pres­sure, and be given a 10-year heart dis­ease and stroke risk as­sess­ment. De­pend­ing on those re­sults, they would ei­ther face lifestyle changes, or lifestyle changes and med­i­ca­tion.

Those whose read­ings are higher than 140 over 90 would be clas­si­fied as hav­ing stage 2 high blood pres­sure, with treat­ment in­clud­ing lifestyle changes and two dif­fer­ent classes of med­i­ca­tion, the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion re­ports.

The com­mon theme here is lifestyle changes. High blood pres­sure is “a ma­jor risk fac­tor for heart dis­ease and stroke,” ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, yet lifestyle changes can have a ma­jor im­pact on blood pres­sure. The AP re­ports that “poor di­ets, lack of ex­er­cise and other bad habits cause 90 per­cent of high blood pres­sure.”

So es­sen­tially read­ers, chang­ing one’s lifestyle and adopt­ing health­ier habits can be the chang­ing fac­tor to shape the re­main­der of your life. It might a chal­leng­ing road to take at first, but the al­ter­na­tive — a life­time on blood pres­sure med­i­ca­tion — isn’t all that great ei­ther. It seems like an easy de­ci­sion to make.

What do you think of the new blood pres­sure clas­si­fi­ca­tions? Let us know. Share your thoughts on­line at www.Yu­, or send us a Let­ter to the Ed­i­tor at let­ters@yu­

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