Two recent news items made me realize buying a High Blood Pressure monitor is a beneficial investment.
The first news item. Isabel Granada, a popular Filipino actress, and singer collapsed suddenly during a ‘meet and greet’ event with her fans in Doha, Qatar. She went into a coma and later passed away. The cause was a brain aneurysm. She was just 41. It must be heart-breaking for her husband and her 14-year-old son.
Perhaps, like me, many people were quick to check the meaning of a brain aneurysm. According to a report by Mayo Clinic, a brain aneurysm occurs when a weak spot in your brain’s arterial wall bulges and fills with blood. If it ruptures, it can cause hemorrhagic stroke and is life-threatening. And it is unpredictable and may not show any symptom UNTIL it ruptures.
The causes of a brain aneurysm are unknown. But the risk factors include older age, cigarette smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), drug abuse, and heavy alcohol consumption.
High blood pressure is a hidden danger. It is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. Hence at my age, it’s important to know whether my blood pressure is normal or if high, whether to go on medication. The best way is to check regularly.
These new guidelines mean that the number of U.S. adults considered as having high blood pressure has increased 14% to 46% from 32% previously!
Here’s a quick summary of the new guidelines and the reasons behind it:
Before 14th Nov 2017, if your blood pressure reading is 140/90, then you have high blood pressure.
Now, if your blood pressure reading is 130/80, you are considered as having high blood pressure!
Blood pressure reading of 120/80 is still considered normal.
The new definitions are drafted to help people take steps to control their blood pressure earlier.
This is preventive medicine.
Even if a person is now considered as having high blood pressure, it does not mean that he or she needs to immediately take medication. Dr. Paul Whelton, M.D., who chaired the committee that wrote the new guideline said, “It’s a yellow light that you need to be lowering your blood pressure, mainly with non-drug approaches.”
However, even if more people will be under medication, there are benefits. According to Kenneth Jamerson, M.D., and a professor of internal medicine and a hypertension specialist at the University of Michigan Health System explained, “Yes, we will label more people hypertensive and give more medication, but we will save lives and money by preventing more strokes, cardiovascular events, and kidney failure.”
It recommends a healthy living style, eating healthier food, exercising, losing weight avoid smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, decreasing salt intake, and reducing stress as the first line of defense.
He is a staunch proponent of less medicine and adopting a healthier lifestyle.
He acknowledged that the Sprint Study (the basis for the New Guidelines) was well-conducted and of high-quality.
The gist of the study was that the lower target set for someone to be considered as having high blood pressure or hypertension led to a 25% reduction in heart attacks, strokes, heart failures, and cardiovascular deaths.
He is concerned that the participants chosen were in the “higher-than-average-risk for cardiovascular events” and thus they do not reflect the reality of the general population.
Another concern is that the blood pressure reading can be volatile and in the Sprint Study the subjects were allowed 5 minutes to calm down before their blood pressure was taken. This may not reflect the real setting of a busy clinic.
He worries that the new guidelines will result in more people being put on unnecessary medication.
He strongly recommends focussing on nutritious food, regular exercise and adopting a less-stress lifestyle.
We notice that in both for and against the new guidelines, they have the same recommendation: Healthier living!
As controversial as the new guidelines may be, the takeaway for me personally is not more medication but living a healthy lifestyle. Even for those of you who are on medication, a change in your diet and lifestyle will help you to control your high blood pressure.
You may like to assess your blood pressure and cardiovascular health, check out: