Cardiologists have worked with many patients to control their blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Until recently, the guidelines stated that a reading of 140 was acceptable in patients over 50 and 150 was acceptable in patients over 65.
“A study looking at lower guidelines ended early, because the results were so dramatically positive,” says McLeod Cardiologist Ryan Garbalosa, DO. “Researchers found that people taking medications to lower their blood pressure to 120 experienced a 30% reduction in strokes and heart attacks, plus a 25% decrease in the risk of death. The study results seem to suggest that a lower blood pressure is better.”
In this country, nearly 30% of adults have high blood pressure and nearly half of those being treated still have a blood pressure more than 140. When you have your blood pressure taken, this number is the top one called systolic pressure, the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. The bottom number, diastolic pressure, measures the pressure in your arteries between heart beats.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT BLOOD PRESSURE
We can expect a new emphasis on lowering blood pressure – but hypertension is only one risk to our cardiovascular/heart health that we can control ourselves.
Smoking. You name it and almost every health risk – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, ectopic pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis and more – can be caused by or made worse by smoking. Quit smoking and tobacco use to see your overall health enhanced.
Obesity. Too much weight strains your heart to pump the blood, while causing additional wear and tear on your hip and knee joints. Even without other risks, carrying too much weight increases your risk of heart attacks (myocardial infarction) and blocked arteries.
High Cholesterol. LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) carries fat-like substances through your body than end up as plaque, which blocks key arteries, restricting oxygen flow to the heart and blood system. How much you eat, what you eat and what you do to exercise, all affect the amount of bad cholesterol and impacts your heart health.
Even in youth as young as 11, high cholesterol can raise their risk of heart disease by more than 15%.
Research has shown that modest weight loss in an overweight woman – about 10% of total body weight maintained over 2 years — can result in an overall improvement in heart and vascular health. Another study found that in women over 30, lack of physical activity – is the most powerful risk factor for heart disease.
Stress, Fatigue, Exhaustion. Long-term and extreme stress tends to trigger unhealthy eating, drinking alcohol or smoking – all of which are unhealthy habits. A condition known as “vital exhaustion” – a blend of emotional distress, fatigue and irritability — can increase the risk of heart disease by 36%.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
You can’t rely on other people or medications to solve all your risks. It’s up you to take action and maintain positive health behaviors to reduce heart risk and improve heart health. See a cardiologist. They can pinpoint your most critical risks and offer guidance to resources, treatments and programs that can help.
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Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, American Heart Association, British Journal of Sports Medicine, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention