The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently issued new treatment guidelines that lowered the high blood pressure threshold from 140/90 to 130/80.
As a result, millions of Americans are now considered to have high blood pressure and have to make necessary dietary and lifestyle changes.
What People Can Do To Lower Their Risk?
A recent review study conducted by the University of Southern California found a link between potassium-rich food and lower blood pressure. Foods that are rich in potassium include bananas, avocados, sweet potatoes, salmon and dried apricots.
Additionally, experts also recommend people to eat less high-sodium (salt) foods. Sticking to low sodium and high potassium diets can lower one's blood pressure.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being overweight can increase people's risk for high blood pressure.
Doctors usually calculate people's body mass index or BMI in order to determine whether their weights are in the healthy range (between 18.5 and 24.9 BMI). Also, losing weight can increase blood flow to the brain and reduce strain on the blood vessels.
Exercising can help people maintain a healthy weight as well as lower their blood pressure. Also, being physically active can strengthen heart muscle and improve its ability to pump blood to the lungs and throughout one's entire body.
Drinking Less Alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can raise people's blood pressure. According to the CDC, women should have only 1 drink in one sitting and men should not drink more than 2 drinks.
The nicotine in tobacco cigarettes is known to raise blood pressure and heart rate. It can also narrow one's arteries and harden their walls. Also, smoking cigarettes can put people at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
The Reason Behind The Change In Guidelines
According to Heather Ross, a clinical professor at the Arizona State University's College of Nursing and Health Innovation, the new guidelines were put in place because studies have found that blood pressures over 120/80 put people at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Ross added that most people only need to make lifestyle changes in order to keep their blood pressure in the healthy range. However, people who were prescribed medications should continue to take them.