On November 13, the upper limit for what’s deemed a healthy blood pressure read was lowered dramatically. The American Heart Association released new guidelines that mean tens of millions of Americans will now be instructed to take action to lower their blood pressure, where before they were deemed perfectly fine.
The new definition of a blood pressure considered “high” is any reading 130/80 millimeters of mercury or greater. Previously, the guidelines drew the line at 140/90.
With these new numbers, nearly half of all American adults will be told they have high blood pressure. For adults over 65, 80 percent will now be affected. The prevalence of hypertension among men under age 45 is expected to triple. Among women of the same age, the condition’s commonality will double.
“Those numbers are scary,” admitted Dr. Robert M. Carey, co-chair of the committee that wrote the new guidelines, to the The New York Times.
They’re especially scary because of the risk having a high blood pressure adds to your health. Hypertension is one of the primary causes of heart disease, which remains the number one killer of Americans. High blood pressure is also affiliated with heart attack, stroke, and other severe medical problems.
Efforts to reduce high blood pressure, however, are often ineffective. Even when the standards were lower, close to half of all patients with hypertension failed to lower their numbers back to normal levels, even after complete overhauls of their lifestyles. Dietary intervention is often attempted and failed, only to be followed up by a heavy dose of prescription drugs.
“Is it going to affect a lot of people, and is it going to be hard to meet those blood pressure goals?” posed Dr. Raymond Townsend, director of the hypertension program at Penn Medicine, to The New York Times. “The answer is a pretty significant yes.”
If you currently consider your blood pressure a healthy one, it’s time to take a trip to the doctor and check again. If your blood pressure has become an issue, definitely listen to the advice of your doctor for how to lower it. But a good place to start could be limiting these foods that are sending your blood pressure through the roof.