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Reading This Could Save Your Life: The Dangers of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is very common. The Centers for Disease Control states that it affects one in three American adults and more than 50 percent of people over 55 years of age.

High blood pressure is also a major cause of premature death. It leads to heart failure, stroke, heart attack, and chronic kidney disease. Worldwide, the World Health Organization estimates it is responsible for 9.4 million deaths per year.

Normal blood pressure is 120/80. This number has changed in recent years and is debated amongst different medical societies and organizations. I use the recommendations of the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology; both make recommendations based on ongoing medical research and peer-reviewed studies.

Elevated blood pressure is defined as 120-129 systolic, the upper number, and below 80 diastolic, the lower number. Stage I hypertension (high blood pressure) is defined as 130-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic. Stage II hypertension is defined as over 140 systolic and 90 diastolic. These guidelines were published in 2017 by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. Keep in mind these are the lowest numbers acceptable and the most aggressive goals set by any society or organization. At the same, they are numbers based on longitudinal research and multiple studies.

Initial treatment for high blood pressure is behavioral modifications. Some suggestions are reduction of salt intake, weight loss, reduction or cessation of alcohol intake, smoking cessation, and exercise.

Most experts encourage you to start checking blood pressure annually at age 18. As you age and your blood pressure increases, more frequent monitoring is recommended.

If your blood pressure reaches an elevated or hypertension level (above 120/80) and behavioral modifications are ineffective, there are many different treatment options and medications available. Get the medical advice you need by establishing care with a medical provider or making an appointment with your primary care provider.
Steve Brooks, MD is a family practice physician at Barton Primary Care at Stateline Medical Center in Stateline, Nevada. He will be speaking more about why blood pressure matters for your health and what lifestyle changes can be made to naturally lower blood pressure on Thursday, November 8 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Barton Center for Orthopedics and Wellness in South Lake Tahoe, California. More information about this free lecture and signing up in advance is available be calling 530.543.5537 or visiting bartonhealth.org/lecture