I don’t have high blood pressure. Oh, wait, maybe I do.
Everyone should understand by now that heart health = brain health. You may not realize how early the damage begins. Recent research shows that the threshold for hypertension was previously set too high. This new research is particularly worrisome for people well over 50 who’ve been thinking “I don’t have high blood pressure.” New guidelines define normal blood pressure as 120/80 or less. The change doubles the number of women under 45 and triples the number of men under 45 now classified as having high blood pressure. But that’s not all.
An ongoing study of 6,895 men and women began in 1985 with follow-ups in 1991, 1997, 2003, 2007, 2012 and 2015, compared actual blood pressure readings with later dementia rates. If the systolic reading was over 130 mmHg at age 50, people were 38% more likely to have dementia by the last follow-up, even for those without cardiovascular disease. If systolic blood pressure rose at 60 or 70, there was little increase in average risk. Other lifestyle/health issues were taken into account in the statistics.
‘One of the key reasons proposed for the importance of mid-life hypertension on brain health is due to duration of exposure, as those with hypertension at age 50 are likely to be “exposed” for longer.’ – Abell, et. Al.
I thought I did not have high blood pressure but figured it would happen eventually. It has been slowly creeping up to the 130s over the past five years, but I have not been actively monitoring it. I didn’t need to take my blood pressure regularly – I didn’t have high blood pressure yet!
Behavioral changes are the first steps in reducing the systolic pressure. The American Heart Association suggests making changes that matter:
- Eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet
- Limit alcohol
- Enjoy regular physical activity
- Manage stress
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Quit smoking
- Take medications properly
Since I already do those things, I guess I will be making a doctor’s appointment to discuss my options. I hate the idea of taking medication for the rest of my life, but I need to do everything that I can to delay dementia, which runs in the family. Better go and take my blood pressure now.
Consumer Reports recommends this blood pressure monitor, which you can get through my Amazon affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/2RAWsqE.