It’s 130/80. It’s part of the new blood pressure guidelines released by the American Heart Association. These new medical guidelines mean nearly half of Americans could be diagnosed with hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Cardiologists affiliated with Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute say this should serve as a wakeup call for many people.
“These new guidelines should raise awareness of the risk factors associated with high blood pressure, like inactivity, poor diet, and smoking. With these new guidelines, even though you may have had normal blood pressure previously, your risk factors may put you into a higher risk category for developing hypertension-related diseases,” says Salman Arain, M.D., a cardiovascular disease specialist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Texas Medical Center and UTHealth.
The previous guideline for treating hypertension was a blood pressure of 140/90. The new guidelines place that at 130/80. With this change, nearly half of Americans will now be considered as having high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
“This is a big shift in how we manage hypertension. More people will need to start making lifestyle changes, while others might also need medication or need to increase their current medication. This is definitely something you will want to bring up with your cardiologist or primary care physician,” says David Portugal, M.D., an interventional cardiologist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Southwest.
Unmanaged Hypertension Can Have a Serious Impact on Your Health
“Uncontrolled hypertension can damage arteries and lead to coronary artery disease or even heart failure. It’s also a major risk factor for stroke, and not something that should be ignored,” says Daniel Hermann, M.D., a cardiovascular disease specialist affiliated with Memorial Hermann Heart & Vascular Institute-Memorial City.
Cardiologists affiliated with the Institute offer their top tips for lowering your blood pressure.
- Dr. Arain’s Tip: Get moving! Exercise alone can help you drop your blood pressure by 5 to 10 points. If it then leads to weight loss, that’s another 5 to 10 point drop. Regardless, participating in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day, like jogging, cycling, swimming or even dancing, can make a big difference.
- Dr. Hermann’s Tip: Cut the salt. The easiest way to do this is to avoid prepackaged, processed, and prepared foods, which tend to be high in sodium. Consider using spices, not salt, to add flavor to your food. The American Heart Association recommends those with high blood pressure limit sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.
- Dr. Portugal’s Tip: Make meal modifications. The American Heart Association recommends the DASH diet for those looking for a practical plan to heart healthy eating. It is a plan rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat and nonfat dairy, beans and nuts, whole grains, and lean protein. If you don’t know where to start, this is a great resource.
Working in close collaboration, Memorial Hermann’s affiliated cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons offer innovative techniques and cutting edge medicine to provide patients with the best possible clinical quality.
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, schedule an appointment with one of our affiliated cardiologists who can explain more about risk factors, lifestyle changes, and medication options to control or prevent hypertension.