Last fall, the American Heart Association changed its guidelines about what should be considered high blood pressure.
Formerly, the pressure considered to require a lifestyle modification, possibly including medication, was anything above 140/90; it is now anything above 130/80. And blood pressure over 120/90 is now considered “elevated.”
Creighton Professor Dr. John Stone, Co-Director of the Center for Promoting Health and Health Equity, says in spite of years of knowing that lack of exercise, obesity and salt – as well as genetics – contribute to high blood pressure , getting people to make the necessary lifestyle changes can still be a challenge.
Stone says it has also been known for decades what a powerful impact lowering blood pressure can have.
“The evidence if completely solid that if you can lower people’s blood pressure, their outcomes in heart attacks, strokes, chronic congestive heart failure and cardiovascular disease goes way, way down. Also, generally initial treatment, at least, can be done with pretty inexpensive medication.”
Stone says with the new guidelines the hypertensive population of whites is roughly 46% to 48% and for blacks it’s about 56% to 58%.
“Unfortunately, blacks get hypertension earlier, and it’s more resistant to treatment. It’s a major contributor to end-stage kidney failure, which is a very big problem in the black community.”
Stone says there’ is a good reason high blood pressure is called “the silent killer.” He says hypertension usually causes no symptoms until it is advanced – and for that reason it is important people have their blood pressure checked – or learn how to check it themselves.
Listen next Friday to hear about a unique CDC-funded collaboration between Creighton and the Omaha African-American community aimed at helping people keep their blood pressure under control.
For more information, go to heart.org