New blood pressure guidelines affect Kansans

FILE - In this June 6, 2013, file photo, a patient has her blood pressure checked by a registered nurse in Plainfield, Vt. New medical guidelines announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, lower the threshold for high blood pressure, adding 30 million Americans to those who have the condition. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A 2016 report by the United Health Foundation says just over 31% of Kansans have high blood pressure, a figure sure to rise after taking new blood pressure guidelines into consideration.

Dr. Donney Kastner, a cardiologist at Stormont Vail Health, sees many people who can improve their heart health.

“Blood pressure used to be that less than 140/90 was considered ok or pre-hypertension.  Now we know that patients who have a blood pressure between 120 and 140 are at risk of strokes and heart attacks.”

Jen LeClair, with Topeka’s American Heart Association reports previously about 32% of the population in the united states would have been classified as hypertensive.

“Now it’s closer to 46%, so it really has jumped to a 1 in 2 nearly of the population.”

The American Heart Association categorizes blood pressure in 5 stages. Although many Americans are now classified in hypertension stage 1, that does not mean medication is immediately necessary.

“The emphasis is going to be less on jumping to medication and taking a window of time to make the changes that can bring them back into a healthier level,” said LeClair.

“If patients have early hypertension and make a lot of lifestyle changes, I have seen a lot of people come off their medications or reduce their medications by improving their health,” said Dr. Kastner.

Dr. Kastner recommends weight loss, exercise, cutting back on alcohol, and decreasing salt intake as ways to lower your blood pressure.

“By treating your high blood pressure you can delay or prevent heart attack or stroke, maybe for decades.”

Remember, with the stress and fun of the busy holiday season, our diets and exercise routines tend to go out the window, and we like to over-consume.  Our local health experts say, we don’t have to completely deny ourselves.  But as always, moderation is key.



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