How to lower your blood pressure

A new study suggests that it may be best to treat patients that are considered prehypertension (which means between the range of 120 to 140) in order to bring their systolic blood pressure down to 120. The findings come from a large study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. In the past, doctors have often only treated patients whose systolic blood pressure was about 140. 140 is the number that officially declares a person having high blood pressure. The reason the systolic number is of importance is because it is a better indicator of a stroke or heart attack.

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The study involved two groups of patients. One group had a systolic blood pressure of 120, while the other group had a systolic blood pressure of 140. The group with the systolic blood pressure of 120 took an average of three blood pressure medications and the group with the systolic blood pressure of 140 took two blood pressure medications. The study found that there were in people who were able to lower their systolic blood pressure to 120, they had lower rates of heart attack, stroke and death.

According to Dr. John D. Bisognano, professor of medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center and president-elect of the American Society of Hypertension, "This is notable because there are a lot of people out there with blood pressure in the 130s that we might previously have left alone, but if the results of this trial (are) as we think they are, it might be reason to try to get them to 120.”

Ways to lower your blood pressure:

1. Medication. Many people take blood pressure medication keep their systolic number near 140. Some may even live pretty healthy lifestyles through exercise and diet, but can’t seem to get their number down to 120. This could be due to a genetic predisposition. Therefore, these people may have to take more blood pressure medication. The most common types are ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics. This should be discussed with your doctor.

2. Lose weight. Studies suggest that losing weight can reduce systolic blood pressure.

3. Exercise. It is recommended to get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise each week.

4. Eat less salt, and more fruits and veggies. The American Heart Association recommends eating 3 or 4 grams of salt. The DASH diet is high in fruits, vegetables and fiber, and low in sodium.

5. Limit alcohol intake. Studies show that limiting alcohol use can reduce systolic blood pressure. It is recommended that women drink an average of one alcoholic drink a day and men two.