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Understanding the New Blood Pressure Guidelines

New guidelines for medication to treat high blood pressure may change the way you monitor and manage your hypertension. Learn more about the guidelines and alternative ways to manage your blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in every three American adults -- about 67 million people -- are living with high blood pressure.

However, new guidelines released this month may change who medications are recommended for and cause others to turn to alternative therapies. So, where do you fall?

What Is Hypertension?
Your blood pressure is determined by looking at the arteries, which, when healthy and are nice and flexible. In order to determine your blood pressure, you have to measure two things: the pressure within the arteries while the heart is beating and the pressure in the arteries within the beats. These two numbers are called the systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure, respectively.

The numbers are then listed as a ratio, with the systolic on top and the diastolic on the bottom. The ideal blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association,  should be 120/80 or below. Anything above that is considered high blood pressure, which is hypertension. Having high blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

The Changes
On December 18, new guidelines were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. The current guideline for prescribing medication for patients age 60 and older with high blood pressure was 140/90. According to the journal, blood pressure must reach 150/90 to require medication in patients of that age group.

Another change was made for those who have high blood pressure along with the chronic conditions diabetes and kidney disease. Now, these patients, when under the age of 60, should be prescribed medication when their blood pressure reaches 140/90, instead of the current guideline of 130/90.

Dr. Paul James, the author of the report, explained that having guidelines that were more strict didn't offer any additional benefit to those with high blood pressure, including proven prevention of heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

Natural Alternatives
If you're currently being treated for high blood pressure, you and your physician will discuss how these changes may affect you. If it's recommended by your doctor you take a different approach, there are nutritional supplements used to support healthy blood pressure. These supplements include CoQ10, fish oil, beetroot juice, garlic, hawthorn berry, ginger and the mineral magnesium. These supplements help reduce inflammation and protect the arteries from hardening and becoming less flexible (atherosclerosis).

Here are some additional lifestyle changes:

  • Get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
  • Eat a diet that is predominantly plant based and low in fat and sodium.
  • Cut out processed foods.
  • Attain and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Find a way to manage and reduce your stress.

Natural supplements can affect everyone differently, depending on their health. They can also interfere with certain medications. If you're currently taking any medication (prescription or over-the-counter) or are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to speak with your doctor before adding any supplements to your routine. Don't stop taking or alter the dosage of any medications for blood pressure without the guidance of your physician.

Learn more about managing high blood pressure and find all these supplements and more at eVitamins. Stay well!


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