Know Your Numbers


The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently updated their blood pressure guidelines


Blood Pressure

  • For years, hypertension was defined by a blood pressure of 140/90 or higher.
  • Now 130/80 or higher is considered hypertension, making it easier to catch and treat early on.
  • The new guidelines strongly recommend lifestyle changes as a first line of defense, though medication may still be needed.


5 key strategies to stack the odds in our favor for better pressure:

1.Healthy weight: Being overweight is directly correlated with high blood pressure. Expect to see about a one-point drop in systolic blood pressure for every two pounds lost.

2.More movement: Incorporating physical activity into our lifestyle reduces our risk of hypertension. It also helps to reduce stress, which further lowers our risk. Aim for at least some type of exercise daily – ideally at least 90 to 150 minutes per week for the potential benefit of shaving about 5 points off of systolic pressure.

3.Less salt: Our diet, sodium in particular, affects our blood pressure. Not everyone with hypertension is sodium sensitive, but for those who are, it pays to find ways to trim extra salt from our diets, including opting for lower-sodium version of top sodium culprits like deli meats, cheese, salad dressing, breads, soups and packaged foods.Three simple salt swaps:

  • Hot sauce: Tabasco is  35 mg sodium per teaspoon, compared to 240 mg for a brand like Louisiana Hot Sauce.
  • Cajun seasoning: Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning has just 95 mg sodium per quarter-teaspoon, compared to 350 mg for Tony Chachere’s Original Cajun Seasoning.
  • Salad dressing: DIY salad dressing with oil and vinegar is always an option. For bottled dressing, try Hanley’s dressings, as they’re lower in sugar and sodium than most other varieties in stores. Look for Hanley’s in stores like Whole Foods Market and more.

4.More potassium: Boosting potassium intake to 3500 to 5000 mg daily can help to drop systolic   pressure by about 4-5 points. Get more with bananas, as well as spinach, red beans, sweet potatoes, and Greek yogurt.

5. Moderate alcohol. The recommended upper limit is one drink a day for women, and two for men. If you’re drinking more, dialing back to these “moderate” levels can improve systolic pressure by about four points



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