New blood pressure recommendationsDr. Veita Bland / November 17, 2017
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Hot off the press, the new recommendations on blood pressure have been released. As a hypertension specialist and after attending several conferences on this topic, I have a good idea of what those recommendations will be. I have been using them in my practice.
The bottom line is that the new recommendations have found we need to have lower numbers. Studies have shown that the cardiovascular health of a person is better protected with lower numbers. This is particularly so if that person has risk factors for cardiovascular disease. That would include people with heart disease, diabetes and lung disease to name a few.
To be considered to have normal blood pressure you must have a systolic or top number of less than 120 and a diastolic or bottom number of 80 or below. 120-129 systolic and 80 diastolic is considered to be an elevated blood pressure. 130 – 139 and a diastolic of 80 to 89 are considered stage one hypertension.
These numbers are higher than before and have now resulted in the overall prevalence of hypertension in the United States of 45.6 percent from 31.9 percent when the numbers for a diagnosis of hypertension was 140/90.
When looking at the African American population, we see the diagnosis of hypertension going up to 59 percent for men and 56 percent for African American women. These are huge increases.
The new recommendations are the same for younger and older adults. The new recommendations really emphasize the use of lifestyle changes. This would include weight loss, decreasing salt in the diet, increasing dietary potassium, increasing physical activity and moderate alcohol consumption. Moderate alcohol consumption would be one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. Researchers would also like for people to follow the DASH diet. That diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy foods including meats such as fish, poultry, nuts and beans. It is limited in sugar, sweetened foods and beverages, red meats and added fats.
Lifestyle changes will be highly encouraged rather than medications initially unless there are cardiovascular issues.
Health care providers will be challenged to get these increased numbers of patients with high blood pressure under control. Look carefully at the new recommendations and seek care if your numbers are elevated.
Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on North Carolina A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org.