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New blood pressure guidelines
In newly published blood pressure guidelines,1 the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other health organizations have agreed that high blood pressure, or hypertension, is now defined as 130 and higher for systolic blood pressure, or 80 and higher for diastolic blood pressure.
It is a major change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher, and the first update to U.S. guidelines on blood pressure detection and treatment since 2003.
“…definitely an improvement”
“These new guidelines are definitely an improvement. As we have taught at the Pritikin Longevity Center for the last four decades, dramatic increases in heart attack and stroke risk do not begin with blood pressure readings of 140/90. They begin at much lower readings like 130/80,” states Seth Marquit, MD, Medical Director at Pritikin.
In an American Heart Association news release, Paul K. Whelton, MD, lead author of the new guidelines, noted the dangers of blood pressure levels between 130-139/80-89:
“You’ve already doubled your risk of cardiovascular complications compared to those with a normal level of blood pressure. We want to be straight with people – if you already have a doubling of risk, you need to know about it. It doesn’t mean you need medication, but it’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”
The non-drug approaches recommended by Dr. Whelton and co-authors of the new guidelines are lifestyle-based, and include:
- Losing excess weight
- Launching a healthier diet, particularly one like the Pritikin Eating Plan that is plant-based and lowers sodium intake
- Exercising daily
- Drinking less alcohol
- Lowering stress
“Lifestyle changes as the first line of therapy”
“An important cornerstone of these new hypertension guidelines is a strong emphasis on lifestyle changes as the first line of therapy. There is an opportunity to reduce risk without necessarily imposing medications,” Richard Chazal, the immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology, told The Washington Post.
Concurs Dr. Marquit: “Since 1975 at the Pritikin Longevity Center, we’ve seen, every day, the power of healthy lifestyle changes to reduce blood pressure. The good news for many of our guests is that lowering of blood pressure to healthy, normal levels happens very quickly, often in a matter of days.”
Consistently, studies have documented the blood-pressure-lowering benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
Below are research highlights:
- Seven studies have demonstrated that the Pritikin Program of eating, exercise, and lifestyle-change had quick and profound benefits for individuals with hypertension. Researchers from UCLA combined the data from all seven studies….
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