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By Ackerman Cancer Center


New High Blood Pressure Guidelines and Hypertension Health Threats

Updated blood pressure guidelines released at the Scientific Sessions conference of the American Heart Association earlier this year mean nearly half of all adults in America now have hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure.

The new guidelines lower the baseline for hypertension to 130/80. Previously, the threshold was 140/90. Using these new, lower guidelines, approximately 46 percent of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure.

Frequently called the silent killer, high blood pressure damages blood vessels and leads to serious illness such as heart failure, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss and sexual dysfunction.

The updated AHA standards suggest those over age 65 with a systolic reading, or top number, of 130 or higher should be treated with medications, as long as they are able to tolerate such treatment. Those under age 65 may be able to lower their blood pressure without medications by:

  • Consuming a heart-healthy diet
  • Stopping smoking
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Managing stress
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Getting regular physical activity

Obesity is a major cause of hypertension. Although it is not completely clear why, some studies have shown obesity may also increase the risk of certain types of cancer. By simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to reduce the risk of many diseases affecting Americans today. 

If you are overweight and don’t currently exercise, talk with your doctor about ways to improve your health and decrease your risk of high blood pressure and other health conditions. Taking steps to break bad health habits could be lifesaving.

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