The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology re-formulated their criteria for what is considered high blood pressure. University of Nebraska Medical Center Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine Dr. Rae Witt says those numbers have been lowered.
Dr. Witt says, “It used to be once your blood pressure hit 140/90, that is when we would start talking about more intensive lifestyle changes and possibly medicines. Now it is more of that 130/80 number that we will start talking about that. The first step is to seeing what can be changed in our natural lifestyle to how we can improve blood pressure that way.”
That includes diet and exercise. Dr. Witt says diet changes include reducing the amount of salt and high fat foods consumed, cutting down on alcohol and stop smoking. She says developing a good exercise program is another component of what needs to change.
Dr. Witt says there has been a lot of research over the past five to ten years has shown that the risk associated with high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, kidney disease and eye disease, occur at lower blood pressure than they originally thought. She says two years ago there was a study that shows targeting a lower blood pressure goal results in better outcomes.
High blood pressure accounts for the second most heart disease and stroke related deaths among preventable causes. It is second only to smoking. About 85 million Americans have high blood pressure but only have have the condition under control.