Anytime you go into your doctor’s office for an annual visit, what is one of the first things she checks? She’ll take your temperature, listen to your breathing. One of the most universally recognized items in the doctor’s office is the blood pressure cuff, though. Everyone has experienced the apparatus at some point in life. Healthy blood pressure is synonymous with a clean bill of health. Yet, thanks to new guidelines issued by the American Heart Association (AHA), more people may have unhealthy blood pressure than previously thought. Are you at risk?
Previous guidelines regarding healthy blood pressure have stayed static for the last fifteen or so years. According to the now-defunct guide, healthcare practitioners measured your blood pressure only after five minutes of staying quiet and still. Until recently, they wanted to find the sweet spot, usually in the range of 140/90 (140 systolic, 90 diastolic). When was the last time you were completely still and quiet for five minutes? This, along with several other questions, is the reason that the AHA decided to issue new rules.
Your New Blood Pressure
The new guidelines, passed in early November, now consider 130/80 to be the ideal measurement. This new standard puts far more people in the United States in the range of high blood pressure. Over half of all American adults, 103 million people, now must make lifestyle and medication changes to lower their risk of cardiovascular disease. (This is up from the 72 million at risk under the old guidelines.) The AHA hopes that by holding patients accountable to these new guidelines that doctors can provide more effective treatments and prescription management.
Along with the new standards, the AHA included some tips to avoid any false readings next time you visit the doctor. They recommend sitting in a chair, feet flat and legs uncrossed; empty your bladder before the test; and, make sure to roll up your sleeves so the cuff is on bare skin. Avoid exercising, smoking, or drinking caffeine half an hour before your test. Make sure that you don’t sit or lie on the exam table as this can lead to a falsely low blood pressure.
Thanks to the new guidelines, are you now suffering from high blood pressure? What steps do you take to promote a healthy, happy lifestyle? Do you have any tips to share with others to help them improve their health? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. And be sure to take good care of yourself.