AHA updates BP guidelines - focus on diet, weight loss
The American Heart Association (AHA) updated its position statement on lifestyle modifications for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure (BP). The modified guidelines are published in the February issue of Hypertension.
Because cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk increases progressively throughout the range of BP, beginning at 115/75 mm Hg, efforts to reduce BP in both nonhypertensive and hypertensive individuals are warranted. Dietary changes alone can lower BP and prevent hypertension in nonhypertensive individuals. In uncomplicated stage I hypertension, defined as systolic BP of 140 to 159 mm Hg or diastolic BP of 90 to 99 mm Hg, dietary changes are a useful first step before starting drug therapy.
For patients with hypertension who have already started drug therapy, reduced salt intake and other lifestyle modifications can further reduce BP. The guidelines emphasize increased intake of fruit and vegetables, and limiting alcohol intake to moderate levels for patients who drink alcohol.
- Maintain normal weight or lose weight if overweight
- Reduce salt intake to about 1.5 g/day
- Eat 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Moderate alcohol intake
- Follow the DASH diet
Dietary measures thought to have a limited or uncertain effect on BP include fish oil supplementation, other types of fat, fiber, calcium, magnesium, carbohydrates, and protein.
"The key message is simple: as a person ages, blood pressure rises," Dr. Appel says. "While an individual's BP may be normal now, 90% of Americans over 50 years of age have a lifetime risk of high BP. Americans should take action before being diagnosed with hypertension."