For more than a decade, it’s been assumed that normal blood pressure is not limited to 120/80, which is the aim of all therapies designed to help those suffering from hypertension, but also includes readings of up to 130/80. High blood pressure, which is associated with a variety of conditions, was considered to have 140/90 as its starting point.Yet this standard, which seemed to be unshakable, has recently been altered: the numbers have been shifted, and now even 130/80 is regarded as hypertension. Such an approach aims at promoting healthy lifestyle, because even these figures, which seem to indicate an insignificant increase, prove to put patients at risk.
Why The Change?The American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and their colleagues have recently announced they decided to redefine high blood pressure because of the new data obtained in one of the studies which was conducted in 2009. With more than 9,300 patients enrolled, the trial covered those who were older than 50 years old, and showed that patients having 130 over 80 also face an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and other conditions to the development of which elevated blood pressure contributes. One of the major differences between the old guidelines and the new version is the elimination of the old category of “pre-hypertension”, which was considered to include the systolic readings of 120-139 and diastolic readings of 80-89. Instead, the following categories are suggested: “elevated”, “Stage 1 and 2 hypertension”, and “hypertensive crisis”. 120/80 still remain being the normal readings. Such changes will make much more people belong to the category of those suffering from hypertension. It is estimated that the number of hypertensive women (those who were considered to be healthy, but are not, according to new standards) will double, whereas the number of younger (45 years old or younger) hypertensive men will triple.
What Can I Do?Although the result of 130/80 is not an indication of the need to take medications (at least in most cases – consult your therapist to make sure you can try handling it without drugs), it does not mean you can neglect it. Since high blood pressure is associated with cardiovascular diseases, kidney failures, strokes and other conditions, having your readings elevated is a signal which must not be ignored. Blood pressure is affected by a variety of factors, including genetics, diet, health conditions, age, exercise, stress, etc. You cannot control your life, but you can switch to a healthier lifestyle by eating food that benefits the cardiovascular system (see below), going in for sports, lowering stress, quitting smoking, and doing other things which can make your lifestyle healthy. Besides, don’t forget to check your blood condition and monitor your blood pressure: with portable devices available on the market, you can do it yourself.
Dieting As A Means Of Keeping Blood Pressure NormalDieting is one of the key tools which are recommended in case of the new “elevated” blood pressure. Changing your lifestyle means changing your attitude to food: it must not be a source of immense pleasure, but a fuel for your body which benefits it. It does not mean your meals are going to be disgusting starting from now: healthy food is delicious, but your favorite hamburgers are likely to be excluded from the list. Here is advice on what eating habits to stick to if your blood pressure is 130/80 or higher:
- Eating nuts at least twice a week is very beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Mind the calories, though: obesity is not the thing you need!
- Lots of veggies and fruits must be the core of your meals. Choose food rich in magnesium and potassium.
- Limit your intake of sodium. It can be substituted with healthy spices. By the way, eating a couple of cloves of garlic a day is also a good idea! Cook meals using beetroot, salmon, whole grains, and dark beans when possible.