The New Normal: Why Accurate Monitoring is Important with New Hypertension Guidelines

Those who have normal blood pressure might be hypertensive now according to the new guidelines released by American Hypertension Association (AHA). (1)   These guidelines mean that 46 percent of Americans can now be classified as hypertensive in comparison with 32 percent 14 years ago.

What does the new guideline entail? Before anxiety and panic kick in, let’s find out the standards set by AHA:

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120/80 reading remain as the normal state. The most significant change is the hypertensive baseline which is 130/80 (previously 140/90. Thus, having a blood pressure of 130/80 is now considered as high risk. Pre-hypertension may start above the 120/80 cut-off.

Although the guideline may make millions of people who had normal blood pressure before having high blood pressure now, the good news is that medications are not recommended for the newly classified ‘high risk’ individuals.   However, if the individual has another disease such as diabetes, treatment is essential. 

Lifestyle Changes

Instead of recommending medications, AHA is campaigning for the prevention and management of blood pressure with lifestyle changes. Veering away from the sedentary lifestyle, reducing sodium intake, getting enough rest and sleep, and choosing healthy food can drastically reduce blood pressure. 

“An important cornerstone of these new 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.”

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When it comes to lowering blood pressure, a low-salt, a heart-healthy diet may be just as effective as medication. This is the conclusion of a new study recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.  “What we're observing from the combined dietary intervention is a reduction in systolic blood pressure as high as, if not greater than, that achieved with prescription drugs says Senior study author Dr. Lawrence Appel, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (2)

The most surprising result was found for adults whose baseline systolic blood pressure was 150 mm Hg or higher. They experienced an average systolic blood pressure reduction of 21 mmHg with the low-sodium, DASH diet, compared with those following the high-sodium, control diet. (2)

Managing Blood Pressure at Home

Keep in mind that hypertension is not an illness per se, but having high blood pressure puts you at risk of a heart attack or stroke and may result in deadly diseases such as kidney failure, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, and more. 

The guidelines do not intend to scare most people; its goal is to encourage everyone to track accurate blood pressure numbers. This might seem costly to some, but blood pressure management is easy and cost-efficient nowadays. 

Because of various improvements in technology,  low-cost digital therapeutics are now available. Digital therapeutics rely on accurate, clinically proven technologies to replace or supplement traditional medical therapies.  Thus, managing and preventing blood pressure can be easily done using mobile phones. 

Cardiowell, a digital therapeutic mobile application for blood pressure management, is a free application that focuses on recording, tracking, and analyzing blood pressure. Cardiowell aims to help users increase resilience to stress and reduce the risks associated with hypertension.    

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