The Arkansas Department of Health, along with other healthcare providers, has adopted new hypertension guidelines, and the new guidelines mean some patients who didn’t think they had high blood pressure before might be considered hypertensive now. The guidelines were recently developed by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and nine other health professional organizations.
Hypertension leads to illness and death but can be prevented, according to the health department. Those who have high blood pressure can change lifestyle habits to reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. This includes quitting smoking, moving more and eating health foods.
Smoking increases one’s risk of heart disease because it increases a person’s blood pressure. A healthy diet low in red meat with a variety of fruits and vegetables can help fight heart disease, according to the health department. High blood pressure often shows no symptoms, but it is one the top reasons people have a heart attack or stroke. “Arkansas leads the nation for the highest heart attack death rates and is number five in the nation for the highest stroke death rates.”
The guideline changes recommend “earlier steps for care to prevent the illness and death that can occur as a result of uncontrolled hypertension,” said Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan, ADH state chronic disease director. “People should know their blood pressure numbers and make important lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking, getting physically active and eating a healthy diet that will help lower blood pressure.”
This is the first update to the guidelines since 2003, and they redefine high blood pressure, treatment thresholds, goals and medications used to manage hypertension in adults. High blood pressure is a reading of 130 or higher for systolic blood pressure measurement (top number), or a reading of 80 or higher for the diastolic measurement (bottom number). Previously, high blood pressure was 140/90 or higher.