Posted by on Dec 5, 2017 in Blog, Hypertension, Stroke | 0 comments

Recently, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines for healthy blood pressure.  By reducing the goals of healthy, normal blood pressure to below 120 mm Hg, the hope is to reduce heart attacks, strokes and death.

These new goals are based on a significant number of research studies but especially the SPRINT study.  This was a large investigation with more than 9000 patients over the age of 50 whose blood pressure measured higher than 130 mm Hg.  Participants also had at least one of these risk facts:  1) “Presence of clinical or subclinical cardiovascular disease other than stroke
2) Chronic kidney disease, defined as estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) 20-59 ml/min/1.73 m2
3) A Framingham Risk Score for 10-year cardiovascular disease risk ≥15%
4) Age >75 years”**

The study’s goal was to lower patients’ blood pressure to below 120 mm Hg.   Patients were followed for 5 years. Researchers found significant reductions in the numbers of heart attacks, strokes and death among participants as  compared to usual care (with the blood pressure target of less than 140 mm Hg.)

Changes in Taking Blood Pressure Readings

In addition to the new guidelines, recommendations have changed for how your doctor takes your blood pressure.   In addition to the DOs and DON’Ts that you see in this infographic, a diagnosis of high blood pressure should not be made based on just one reading or one office visit.  Instead, if your pressure is high in one arm, your doctor should take a reading using the other arm during your first evaluation visit. Then, at a second visit, your doctor should take your blood pressure in the arm that had the highest blood pressure reading during your first visit. Only if that reading is high can your doctor make a diagnosis.

The DASH Diet

As you can see in the infographic above, the DASH diet plays a large role in bringing blood pressure under control.  What is the DASH diet?

The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension or DASH is a diet based on research.  One of its main features is a reduction of sodium intake.  Most Americans have over twice the amount of sodium in their diet (3400 mg) as is recommended by the AHA (1500 mg).  There are two “sodium” versions of the DASH diet, one which lowers intake to  2300 mg and the other that lowers intake to 1500 mg.  In addition, there are two versions of the diet a 1600-3100 calorie diet and a 2000 calorie diet.

Below is a table provided on the DASH website.


Both versions include lots of grains, vegetables and fruits per day as well as lean meats, poultry or fish. Servings of dairy, monounsaturated fats, nuts, legumes and seeds and sweets are more limited.

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**http://www.acc.org/latest-in-cardiology/clinical-trials/2015/09/23/10/40/sprint