Brett Heilbron, MD, FRCPC, cardiologist, discusses lowering high blood pressure.
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Featuring Dr. Brett Heilbron, MD, FRCPC
Lowering High Blood Pressure
Duration: 2 minutes, 17 seconds
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, not just in developed countries, but in developing nations as well.
And there's now overwhelming evidence that treating high blood pressure can reduce the risk of subsequent cardiovascular events quite dramatically. If you look over a five-year-period, reducing blood pressure will reduce your stroke risk by about 40 percent and your heart attack risk by about 15 percent.
Now I think there are a number of strategies in terms of how to reduce the blood pressure. Obviously right up there is lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, and sodium restriction. But in some individuals drug therapy is needed as well.
I think it's important to bear in mind that the blood pressure is not a static thing, it does change with time. In fact, the systolic blood pressure, the upper number, tends to rise steadily with age and it actually peaks out at about age 80. The diastolic pressure, or the bottom number, peaks out around age 60.
So it's important to realize that if you're in your 40s or 50s and you have a normal blood pressure, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be normal in 10 years, or 20 years time, because it does tend to rise in most individuals.
It is very modifiable, and certainly regular exercise, dietary discretion, sodium reduction, all have a huge impact on subsequent development of high blood pressure.
Now the normal blood pressure for the average individual is 140/90, irrespective of age, but there are some conditions that predispose to cardiovascular events, particularly kidney disease and diabetes.
And the current guidelines suggest that the upper limit of normal for diabetics or those with kidney problems should be in the 130/80 range rather than 140/90 for the general population.
So it's important to realize that blood pressure is generally symptomless and it's important to have your blood pressure checked to actually find out if you have high blood pressure or not.
The stats in Canada are not that great; a recent study showed that less than 20% of Canadians with high blood pressure actually have their blood pressure controlled within the recommended guidelines. So there's lots of room for improvement.
I think it's really important for individuals to follow up with their family physician regularly, have their blood pressure checked so they know what their risk is and whether anything needs to be done about it.
Local Practitioners: Cardiologist
This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.