February is American Heart Month, and we draw attention to heart disease, America’s No. 1 killer. In a nutshell, here’s what’s new:
High blood pressure is redefined for first time in 14 years: 130 is the new high
“The American Heart Association’s new guidelines for blood pressure are the first change in guidelines since 2003,” said Dr. Michael Silver, Westmed cardiologist. “Previously, we considered a high blood pressure reading to be a top number (systolic) of 140 and a bottom number (diastolic) of 90. Now most adults with BP of 130/80 are considered to have elevated blood pressure.” The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology announced the new guidelines before year-end 2017.
Interestingly, Dr. Silver estimates that previously 72 million and now 103 million Americans will need to lower their blood pressure to prevent heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. Other highlights:
–Healthcare providers will be diagnosing about 14 percent more people with high BP and will counsel them about lifestyle changes. However, that will mean only a small increase in those who will be prescribed medication. Non-medication methods like diet, exercise and weight loss will top the list.
–Additionally, younger people will account for the greatest impact of the new guidelines. It is expected to triple in men under age 45 and to double among women under 45.
Symptoms of high BP: NONE!
Dr. Silver explains that high blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because it has no symptoms. High blood pressure means wear and tear on the blood vessels of the body.
What Can You Do?
- Know your numbers to know your risk. Have your blood pressure checked each time you visit your doctor. A blood pressure check is always part of an annual physical. To find out your numbers in between those times, many pharmacies have blood pressure machines that you use. Also digital blood pressure monitors (validated) for at-home use are readily available for purchase online.
- Move More: Dr. Silver recommends, “A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don’t want to tally the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you like and will stick with, and build in more opportunities to be active into your day. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Don’t choose the closest parking place. The payoff is that regular physical activity helps reduce your risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke.
- “Add color” to your plate for a heart-healthy diet – fruits and vegetables in yellow and orange, green, pinks and purples…. To get started on healthy cooking, heart-smart shopping, health dining out and recipes, you can find featured recipes from the American Heart Association at: https://healthyforgood.heart.org/add-color
- Reduce your intake of salt. (or “shake the salt habit to lower your BP.”) Choose lower-sodium foods or low-sodium versions of your favorites.
For more information on WESTMED cardiology services and providers, go to www.westmedgroup.com.