Guidelines for blood pressure have changed.
Sporting red attire, nearly 250 guests joined Florida Hospital in raising awareness for heart disease at two events on Feb. 1. The hospital hosted heart-healthy dinners at the LPGA International Clubhouse in Daytona Beach and the Sanborn Activity Center in DeLand, where panels of physicians discussed the newest blood pressure guidelines, explained how stress affects the heart and offered insight on the latest treatments and interventions.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, killing one in three women,” said family medicine physician Dr. Sharrell Cooper during the event in Daytona Beach. “Approximately 90 percent of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease.”
One of the leading risk factors for heart disease is a very common condition with no symptoms: high blood pressure.
“Also known as hypertension, this condition makes the heart work harder than normal, and if left untreated, it can scar and damage the arteries and lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, eye damage, heart failure and fatty buildups in the arteries, called atherosclerosis,” said Dr. Joanna Wierzbicki.
Cardiologist Dr. Nathaniel Valin said people with readings of 130 as the top number or 80 as the bottom number are now considered to have high blood pressure, according to new guidelines released by the American Heart Association.
“High blood pressure used to be defined as 140/90. The new guideline is designed to help people take steps to control their blood pressure earlier, and hopefully avoid developing other serious medical conditions,” Valin said.
According to the American Heart Association website, normal is now considered less than 120/80.
This change means that 46% of U.S. adults are identified as having high blood pressure, compared with 32% under the previous definition.
“About 10 years after menopause, there is an overall increase in heart attacks among women,” said cardiologist Dr. Chad Broome-Webster said at the DeLand event. “A decline in the natural hormone estrogen may be a factor among post-menopausal women. Estrogen is believed to have a positive effect on the inner layer of artery wall, helping to keep blood vessels flexible.”
The panel also offered good news, saying with treatment options today, patients are living longer and with a better quality of life than ever. Various interventional procedures to treat heart disease were discussed by the panels, including minimally invasive cardiac, thoracic, vascular surgery; catheter-based intervention; and atrial fibrillation; and other techniques and procedures.