PT eDigest

PTD0115_BloodPressurePutting on the blood pressure cuff in the doctor’s office can make anyone’s heart rate rise. Nobody wants to be diagnosed as hypertensive, especially when that label can mean a lifetime of antihypertensive drugs that come with a long list of side effects—dizziness, sexual dysfunction, coughing and more. Years ago, people were not considered hypertensive until their systolic pressure measured over 150 and the diastolic pressure crept above 99. More recently, anyone with blood pressure above 120/80 was deemed to be a candidate for treatment, leading to millions of Americans taking medication for high blood pressure. However, new evidence suggests that this treatment is unnecessary.

In 2012, an analysis of several studies involving almost 9000 patients showed that people with mild hypertension did not have better outcomes when treated with medications. This led to a change in guidelines for treating hypertension—good news for those with blood pressure that is slightly elevated, but still under 150/90.

Just because your doctor does not think medication is necessary, however, does not mean that it is acceptable to ignore an elevated blood pressure reading. High blood pressure, especially in people over the age of 50, can lead to heart disease, stroke and even death. The goal should still be to lower your blood pressure, not with medication but by improved diet and exercise.

An article in the March 2004 issue of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise reported the American College of Sports Medicine’s position that exercise should be a “cornerstone of therapy for the primary prevention, treatment and control of hypertension,” recommending a regimen of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day, supplemented with strength training. We can design a program that specifically targets hypertension and has the added benefit of improving your overall health, which is something that hypertension medications cannot deliver.

The newer guidelines open up more options for treatment if you have mild hypertension. As long as your physician is comfortable with keeping you off medication, we can help you get your blood pressure under control in a safe, effective and side effect-free way.

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