Researchers have found a new “prescription” to help reduce mild to moderately elevated high blood pressure and cholesterol in otherwise healthy adults. According to a new statement from the American Heart Association, sitting less and moving more is the optimal first treatment choice for hypertension and high cholesterol.
Approximately 53 million U.S. adults have abnormally high blood pressure. Individuals in the mild range (systolic between 120-139, and diastolic 80-89) who have an otherwise low risk of heart disease or stroke meet the American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) High Blood Pressure Guideline criteria for lifestyle-only treatment for elevated blood pressure.
Likewise, the authors of the statement estimate that 71 million U.S. adults have an LDL score above 70 mg/dl but do not have a high risk for stroke or heart disease. These people also meet the requirements for lifestyle-only treatment. This treatment includes exercise, a healthy diet, stopping smoking, and moderating alcohol intake.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Statement author Bethany Barone Gibbs, Ph.D. said, “The current American Heart Association guidelines for diagnosing high blood pressure and cholesterol recognize that otherwise healthy individuals with mildly or moderately elevated levels of these cardiovascular risk factors should actively attempt to reduce these risks. The first treatment strategy for many of these patients should be healthy lifestyle changes beginning with increasing physical activity.”
The statement aims to provide suggestions to health care workers to provide “prescriptions” to patients and connecting patients to local resources such as community centers to help meet their physical needs.
The prescription includes screening patients about their physical activity at every interaction and the encouragement to wear a portable device to track their progress. It is also intended to help patients with ideas and resources for supporting regular physical activity. Celebrating milestones in physical activity and encouraging activities that patients enjoy are also suggested.
Physical activity is increasingly left out of our lives in today’s world, and the overwhelming default is to sit. This is becoming increasingly more prevalent as the world is practicing quarantine measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
Researchers believe that it is more important than ever to keep physically active because many people have been forced into isolation this past year. There are many advantages to regular physical activity beyond cardiovascular health, including a reduced risk of some cancers, improved bone density, brain, and mental health. It can also help those with sleep disorders and keep their weight down. So, next time you have some free time in your day, get up and move!