New Blood Pressure Range Means Half of Americans Have Hypertension

If you thought you were doing OK with your blood pressure readings, you may have to think again, as the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have decided on a new number to define high blood pressure. According to Reuters, the new cutoff is a measurement of 130/80, as opposed to the previous 140/90. This means nearly half of Americans now have high blood pressure — and are candidates for drug treatment. The new guidelines also stress proper methods of measuring blood pressure and encourage physicians and patients to be “more vigorous” in addressing lifestyle changes.

Although the lead author of these new guidelines added that this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone needs medication, if you’re among the 30 million or so Americans who have suddenly been classified in the new danger zone, you may want to treat this as a wakeup call. Too often, doctors are too quick to prescribe a drug and too slow to advise nondrug measures. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, drugs are not needed to reverse hypertension.

But just because you don’t need drugs doesn’t mean you don’t need to address blood pressure that is too high, especially when the definition of “high” keeps changing. It’s true that untreated high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, dementia and more, so it’s important to know what steps to take to both prevent or reverse high blood pressure. Since insulin and leptin resistance increase your blood pressure, begin by cutting back or eliminating grains and sugars from your diet.

Other natural strategies include optimizing your vitamin D and omega-3 status, eating certain foods such as beets and garlic (which naturally lower blood pressure) and making sure to add plenty of potassium-rich foods to your diet, such as avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach and Crimini mushrooms.

And, as the study says, it’s also important to make sure you’re not getting a false hypertension diagnosis. Make sure your doctor uses the correct cuff size for your arm, has your arm in the correct position, and has waited at least five minutes after you sit in a chair to take the measurement.
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