High blood pressure spike in AHA study


PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A new study shows some alarming data when it comes to America’s heart health. Nearly half of all U.S. adults have some form of cardiovascular disease. It’s a significant increase from previous years.
The study finds that although the number of people worldwide dying from cardiovascular disease declined, heart disease-related deaths are on the rise in America. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, one major reason is because of what’s considered “the silent killer”.

“The reason we’ve got to focus on this and focus on high blood pressure (is) because if you don’t, this is what happens.” Pointing to the angiogram of a heart attack victim in his mid 30s, Geisinger Cardiologist Mark Bernardi is concerned about the latest statistics from the American Heart Association. “48% of U.S. citizens were identified as having cardiovascular disease,” he said.

While cardiovascular disease includes coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke, it’s high blood pressure which is medically referred to as hypertension that is blamed for the spike in numbers. That’s because the definition in high blood pressure has changed. Dr. Bernardi said, “The American Heart Association/American Academy of Cardiology said you know what? 140 over 90, it’s not low enough. 130 over 80 now is considered the threshold for being identified as somebody who has hypertension.”

Dr. Bernardi says it’s a definition change that needed to be made because of the heart health harm high blood pressure has on people who are at 130/80 and higher. “It’s called the silent killer. You have no symptoms until you have end organ disease… until you’ve had a heart attack, until you’ve had a stroke, until you’ve had kidney failure, until you’ve had heart failure.”

Dr. Bernardi says the study is a wake-up call for all of us. Research shows roughly 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease can be prevented. “Yes you’ve got to quit smoking. You’ve got to control your diabetes. You’ve got to control your cholesterol. You’ve got to get off the couch. But also get to your primary care provider. Make sure you don’t have high blood pressure based upon these new guidelines.” Another factor Dr. Bernardi says you should control? How much sleep you’re getting. Aim for seven to eight hours per night. Less than that is associated with a greater risk of death from all causes.

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