Under Pressure

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or as we docs call it, “hypertension” is a peculiar disease. It’s not as simple as the flu, where you either have it, or you don’t.

Baseline Blood Pressure

Think of it like this – Every single person has a baseline blood pressure. The top number (we call that “systolic”) is the pressure in your arteries when your heart actively squeezes. The bottom number (we call that “diastolic”) is the pressure when your heart relaxes.

What is High Blood Pressure?

So what is high blood pressure? It’s when these numbers are too high. But what’s “too high?” For years, we said the top number should be below 140, and the bottom number should be below 90.  Anything above that and you were given the diagnosis of (cue music of doom) … hypertension.  

Examining the Numbers

These numbers were not arbitrarily chosen as the cutoff point. Scientists and doctors looked at reams of research and decided that when the numbers went higher than 140/90, people were at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. And so, the almighty pen of the American Heart Association drew a circle around these numbers. But this has far-reaching effects.

New Limits & Cutoffs

That is why the recent decision of the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology to lower the cutoff has such massive implications. The new cutoff is 130 over 80, and estimates are that this will triple the number of men under the age of 45 with hypertension, and double the number of women.  In fact, the total number of Americans with hypertension, with this single change, will jump from 72 million to 103 million.

So does that mean I will need to start on medication?

Not necessarily.  In recent years, we have approached high cholesterol with a similar logic. Not everyone with mildly elevated cholesterol needs to be treated. A lot of it depends on your age and the risk that you could have a heart attack or stroke in the next decade. For example, my blood pressure would be considered hypertension under the new guidelines.  But because of my age and overall good looks (actually that part has nothing to do with it), I wouldn’t necessarily need medication at this point.

Try the American Heart Association Calculator

Try this calculator from American Heart Association to see if you might need medication to control your blood pressure. You’ll need to know your cholesterol to fill out the calculator. If you don’t know it, give Remedy a call and we will come out to your home or office, draw blood, and get it to you ASAP.

Also, check out this great article on pill-free ways to lower blood pressure. And give Remedy a call so we can discuss if any further treatment might be required.