Have you heard about the new blood pressure guidelines?
It can always seem confusing when medical standards change, and this is no exception. With different blood pressure guidelines, what previously seemed healthy may no longer work.
In order to understand what these changes mean for you, you need a guide to break it all down – and that’s what we’re here for. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the new blood pressure guidelines and your health. Keep reading to learn more!
1. What the New Blood Pressure Guidelines Mean
These new guidelines apply to both detecting and treating high blood pressure. What does this mean for you?
In short, the new guidelines mean that many more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure – and you could be one of them. High blood pressure is common, but can be dangerous.
However, learning whether or not the guidelines apply to you isn’t as simple as just picking them up and reading them. These new guidelines for blood pressure are over 100 pages, which means that even summaries can get confusing.
Instead, let’s look at a few key points that you need to know about what these guidelines mean, and the definitions that will help you make sense of them.
2. What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure happens when your blood flows through your veins and other blood vessels at a higher-than-normal force. Sometimes high blood pressure is referred to as hypertension.
High blood pressure causes damage to the blood vessels, and can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney disease, and other major health issues. Cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death in the world – it kills almost 18 million people each year. And high blood pressure is one of the major risk factors for it.
3. What the New Blood Pressure Guidelines Say
Last November, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issues these blood pressure guidelines together. These guidelines hadn’t been updated in 15 years, so the change was much needed.
In the previous guidelines, which had been set in 2003, hypertension or high blood pressure was listed as equal to or greater than 140/90. According to the new blood pressure guidelines, high blood pressure is 130/80 or greater.
This means that you’re now considered to have high blood pressure at a lower limit than before. Many more people can now be diagnosed with hypertension.
But what do those numbers mean? The first number (systolic) refers to how much pressure there is against the walls of the arteries with each contraction of the heart. The second number (diastolic) refers to the pressure seen in between heartbeats when the heart is resting.
According to these changes, almost half of all adults in the U.S. now have hypertension. However, high blood pressure isn’t a permanent diagnosis. With lifestyle changes and the right medications, your blood pressure can be changed.
Of course, before you can get the right treatment, you need to find out if you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure in the first place. There usually aren’t any outward symptoms, so it’s important to have your blood pressure measured by a medical professional.
4. When to Seek Out Treatment
If you’ve already been tested and your blood pressure clocked in at 130/80 or above, it’s time to get some treatment. Getting treatment is even more important if you also have other cardiovascular disease risk factors, including smoking or high cholesterol.
You should also seek medical care for high blood pressure if you’re 65 years old or over, and if you have other serious medical conditions like chronic kidney disease or diabetes.
5. How High Blood Pressure Gets Treated
A lot of people can get their high blood pressure to go down using just lifestyle changes. If you minimize your stress, reduce your salt consumption, and lose weight, your blood pressure tends to go down naturally.
However, if these changes don’t do enough, you can also supplement them with medication.
What’s most important is that your high blood pressure treatment takes into account your individual situation and needs. Not every patient responds to the same high blood pressure treatment in the same way.
It’s best if your blood pressure can fall below the 130/80 threshold. However, that number isn’t attainable for everyone, and your body might not tolerate the amount of medication that would bring your blood pressure down low enough.
Your doctor should work with you to get your blood pressure down as much as possible. However, if it goes too low, you might experience other dangerous side effects like dizziness and fainting. The ideal blood pressure level varies from person to person – your doctor can help you figure out what yours is.
6. Controversy About Blood Pressure Guidelines
These new guidelines can be confusing, and they come with a certain amount of controversy.
Medical professionals have changed the definition of high blood pressure. But they also added a new concept called “elevated blood pressure,” which means your blood pressure is 120-129 over under 80. Previously, this category was called pre-hypertension.
The new category can confuse people, and might cause some people to seek to lower their blood pressure more than they should. If your blood pressure is at the right place for you and you try to lower it more, you might faint. Again, your doctor can work with you to help you figure out what blood pressure level is best.
7. Knowledge is Power
The most important thing is finding out what your blood pressure numbers are so you can take the right steps.
A lot of people who have high blood pressure aren’t aware that they have it at all. Education is critical so people can seek out the right treatment. Make sure to get your blood pressure checked every year to see where you stand.
Using the New Blood Pressure Guidelines
These guidelines are best used alongside the advice of your doctor. You don’t need to try to tackle blood pressure on your own. Your doctor will help you figure out the right course of action for you.
What do you think about the new blood pressure guidelines? Leave a comment and let us know!