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PERSPECTIVE: New blood pressure standards should not frighten

Tiffany Everheart

by Tiffany Everheart, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

(The number of U.S. adults considered to have high blood pressure will increase dramatically under new guidelines implemented by medical experts last week. LPN Tiffany Evereart weighs in on the importance of the change.)

My name is Tiffany Everheart, LPN for Shelby County Schools for 2-plus years, and having a nursing license for almost five years. Since becoming a nurse, I recognize that for most Americans, the definition of blood pressure remains a mystery.

To many, it is simply a number associated with health, spoken from a health care professional, and tossed into a chart. Most patients don’t ask enough questions to their PCP (primary care physician) and don’t realize the importance of the numbers they are told.

What is blood pressure exactly?

Blood pressure is a force of blood moving against the wall of arteries. It can be high, too high, low or extremely low. Understanding blood pressure is critical. Systolic pressure represents the pressure of an actively beating heart ejecting blood through the arteries. In other words, during cardiac contraction, blood pressure can reach a peak and this peak pressure is the systolic pressure.

The new guidelines that are being put into place, I feel, will help all Americans. Since hypertension can affect anyone, these new measures are in place to help assist in lowering the tragic consequences of people not managing their blood pressure. And we all need to be aware of our blood pressure, even if you don’t have any signs of elevation. Our health should be the number one detail that we as a society pay attention to.

Technology has begun to change platforms and the medical field is no exception. As we see alarming elevations in blood pressure for younger Americans, we cannot remain complacent. The food choices and other contributing factors of today’s youth are not yielding them a bright and healthy future. In the schools, a lot of the confiscation of materials are harmful foods such as salty chips and sodas. Moderation is key, however, education is important.

At a glance, the new standards of reading 130/80 for a blood pressure representing stage I hypertension should not frighten the nation. In fact, I believe it should increase awareness and force people to address their eating habits, activity level and stress components.

In an effort to reduce the mortality rate caused by hypertension, these new guidelines will help all people reevaluate their lifestyles and in the process we will see a turnaround of millennials choosing healthier lifestyles. The formula is simple: know your history, eat a balanced meal, limit salt intake, exercise regularly, reduce the stress component and stay educated.

In my career of nursing, I have had and will always be presented with opportunities to inform patients of ways to maintain health. I begin with making sure patients understand their diagnosis.

For example, understanding what the numbers represent in blood pressure is critical. I firmly believe a patient who contributes to their treatment will see positive results. As the younger crowd is being magnified to examine their own health and show initiative, we will increasingly see more standards change and conform to our new identities. Patients no longer want to be left in the dark in regards to their health and are entrusting our researchers and clinicians to help change standards for better living. To me, this is only the beginning.

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