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Hypertension and Prehypertension


The DASH eating plan has been proven to lower blood pressure in just 14 days, even without lowering sodium intake. In fact, the US Guidelines for Treatment of High Blood Pressure say that all physicians should recommend the DASH diet as part of the treatmen plan for everyone newly diagnosed with high blood pressure. The DASH Diet Action Plan makes the DASH diet easy to follow.

Best response came in people whose blood pressure was only moderately high, including those with prehypertension. For people with more severe hypertension, who may not be able to eliminate medication, the DASH diet can help improve response to medication, and help lower blood pressure. The DASH diet will also help lower cholesterol, and is associated with lower risk for developing diabetes (common in people with high blood pressure). In addition to being recommended by your physician, DASH is also endorsed by:

  • The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health, of the US Department of Health and Human Services)
  • The American Heart Association
  • The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  • US guidelines for treatment of high blood pressure
  • Rated #1 diet by US News & World Report (2011, 2012, and 2013)
  • and, the DASH diet formed the basis for the USDA MyPlate.

How does the DASH diet help lower blood pressure? It is believed that the high levels of potassium, calcium, and magnesium in the diet help to lower blood pressure. However, supplements of these minerals don't work. So there is something in the foods in addition to the minerals that helps to get blood pressure into a normal range. Learn more about the DASH diet.

Risks from untreated high blood pressure include increasing the workload for your heart, hardening the walls of the arteries, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke, and causing heart failure, kidney disease, and blindness. It is a major health concern, since even Americans with normal blood pressure at age 55 face a 90% chance of developing high blood pressure during their lifetimes. Today, 31% of all adult Americans have high blood pressure, and 25% have prehypertension. And we are seeing alarming increases in obesity-related childhood blood pressure. Although most Americans will develop high blood pressure with age, people in many areas of the world do not see their blood pressure increase with age, and high blood pressure is not associated with healthy aging.

For most people, high blood pressure can be controlled with diet, weight loss, exercise, and other lifestyle changes, especially if caught early.

Current definitions of hypertension and prehypertension are shown below.

Hypertension

Systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90, or on medication for hypertension.

Prehypertension

Systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 120 and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 80. This is a new category that reflects concern about increased risk of developing heart disease even with mildly elevated blood pressure.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having 3 or more of the following: carrying extra weight around the waist, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and/or elevated blood sugar. For more information and specific description, go to our page on metabolic syndrome. This is also known as syndrome X, or dysmetabolic syndrome.

Resources

People with high blood pressure may benefit from following the DASH diet which helps to lower blood pressure. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat and nonfat dairy. This is the doctor recommended diet to help lower blood pressure.


 
 

 

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