A healthcare mandate in the right direction
Why 140 is the new 130
Last November, the American Heart Association declared new guidelines for healthy and unhealthy blood-pressure readings (see below for specifics). Just as important as the new reference ranges themselves, the reason behind the revision-decision makes a strong statement in the right direction about the need for people to take responsibility for their health by adopting healthier lifestyles.
A reading of 130/80 used to be considered “healthy” or “normal,” but is now considered high. The reason this is a good thing is because it will sound the alarms for someone in this range, and healthcare professionals will be advising lifestyle improvement and in some cases medication. Yes, our national averages for people with high blood pressure will increase from approximately 30% to nearly 50% of our population, but there will only be a small increase in those prescribed medication – the rest will be counseled about lifestyle changes.
For those of us in the wellness world, focusing on lifestyle improvement is no epiphany. It’s nice to see the American Heart Association, a respected and influential player in the healthcare industry, making a strong statement about the efficacy of behavior change.
Specifics of the new guidelines:
- Elevated BP: 120-129 (Systolic) AND <80 (Diastolic)
- High blood pressure stage 1: 130-139 (Systolic) OR 80-89 (Diastolic) (old definition of “high” was 140/90)
- High blood pressure stage 2: >= 140 (Systolic) OR >=90 (Diastolic)
- The category of “prehypertension” was eliminated
A couple of weeks after we published this blog, our friend and a colleague for whom we have immense respect, Al Lewis, wrote an article about the drawbacks of the new guidelines. He makes some excellent points, and we think it’s important to share them with you. Read here for what the mandate means if people focus less on health-habit improvement and more on doctor visits and medication.