Blood Pressure Myths

lower blood pessure,blood pressure misconceptions,systolic,diastolic,total healthAccording to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, one in three adults suffers from high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is high it makes the body work harder because it affects every body organ.  Many people don’t even know they have a problem, and many people also have misconceptions about blood pressure and it’s importance in overall health. For instance, some people think high blood pressure goes along with aging or that it doesn’t matter if your blood pressure’s low. To dispel such misconceptions, here are the seven most common blood pressure myths and the truth:

  • As You Age You’re Bound to Have High Blood Pressure. This is one of the biggest myths, and it’s just not true. Hypertension has nothing to do with aging, and although doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes high blood pressure, they do know obesity, lack of exercise, alcohol, smoking, and salt intake affect your blood pressure.
  • Diet and Exercise Will Not Control High Blood Pressure. This is definitely not true because diet and exercise are more effective than drugs at lowering blood pressure.
  • High Blood Pressure Won’t Kill You. While this may be true, it’s also true people die regularly from high blood pressure complications such as heart attack, diabetes, or strokes. High blood pressure also damages your blood vessels and leads to blindness. 
  • If You Have Low Cholesterol High Blood Pressure Doesn’t Matter. Many people think just because their cholesterol is low, they don’t need to worry. In fact, it’s really the opposite. If you have high blood pressure your body is under stress, and stress increases plaque levels caused by LDL “bad” cholesterol.
  • The Best Time to Take Aspirin is in the Morning. While many people might believe taking aspirin works best if you take it first thing in the morning, a 2007 study found it actually works better when taken at night. In fact, in a  hypertension study conducted by the University of Vigo in Spain when aspirin was taken at night systolic blood pressure (the first number) decreased 6 points and diastolic (the second number) decreased 4 points. 
  • Normal Blood Pressure is 120/80.  If your blood pressure is 120/80, it doesn’t mean you don’t have hypertension. Other factors, such as diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol all come into play when determining whether or not 120/80 is normal for you. In fact, 120/80 is an arbitrary standard, and, today, most doctors believe your blood pressure should be lower than 120/80.
  • You Don’t Have to Worry if Your Systolic Blood Pressure is High.  Wrong. Both the systolic and diastolic are equally important. However, the systolic number is more important to people over 50 and the diastolic number is more important to younger people.

The Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, released their seventh report, May 21, 2003, in relation to blood pressure guidelines. It was published in the Journal of American Medical Association. Here are their recommendations.

Blood Pressure Guidelines 

Category Systolic BP
(mm Hg)
Diastolic BP
(mm Hg)
Treatment
Normal < 120 < 80  
Prehypertension 120-139 80-89 Lifestyle change required
Drugs for compelling problems*
Stage 1
Hypertension
140-159 90-99 Lifestyle change required
Thiazide diuretic for most people
Other blood pressure drugs
Drugs for compelling problems*
Stage 2
Hypertension
160 or > 100 or > Lifestyle change required
Two or more blood pressure drugs
Drugs for compelling problems*
*Compelling problems include chronic kidney disease, diabetes, high cardiac risk,
congestive heart failure, previous heart attack, or previous stroke.

NOTE: When systolic and diastolic pressures fall into different categories, doctors
rate overall blood pressure by the higher category. For example, 160/92 mm Hg is
classified as stage 2 hypertension not stage 1 hypertension. 

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