What three things could a person start doing today that would help prevent the development of high blood pressure?
Probably the most important thing is to get salt out of the diet.
I wondered if that was still the case because I’ve started to hear that maybe it’s not that important for the average person?
It is a big deal. If you’ve got genes for developing high blood pressure, you need to get the salt out, that’s the most important thing. Populations that don’t have salt in their diet don’t have hypertension or very little of it as compared to countries that have a lot of salt.
Are there any other things that someone could do today?
Control body weight and, contrary to what you’re reading now in some books, it is important not to gain weight because the incidence of rates of hypertension goes up as you gain weight and it will come down with loss of weight in fifty five percent of people that have hypertension. Therefore, losing weight and keeping an ideal body weight is important.
Are there any other preventions one can take?
Yes, exercise will lower blood pressure so staying physically fit is good. And also not consuming too much alcohol.
Explain more about alcohol consumption.
Three drinks or more of alcohol will cause high blood pressure. Put another way, the incidence rates go up two to three fold in people that take three or more drinks per day.
Is this true for people who are not genetically prone to high blood pressure?
Yes, and then it will come down if you quit drinking. And this is probably the main risk factor that causes increase in cardiovascular events in people that drink too much.
Would you recommend no alcohol at all, or would you say maybe one beer or glass of wine is O.K.?
Well there is a national guideline of no more than two drinks in any one day, and there is a definition for that. And no more than ten per week. So those are good national guidelines and a drink is defined as one beer, a five ounce glass of wine, or an ounce and a half of whiskey.
What do you consider high blood pressure, are you using the standard guidelines?
It has to be adjusted for various situations. 140 over 90 is the standard cutoff for the population. But then you have to consider isolated systolic hypertension in the elderly. As people get older, systolic pressure (the pressure during heart muscle contraction) tends to go up and diastolic pressure (pressure during the filling of the heart) may remain normal and this is a separate problem that has to be addressed and treated. Systolic hypertension in the elderly (over age 65) would be considered abnormal if it’s over a hundred and sixty.