Seward Community Health Center Adopts New High Blood Pressure Guidelines

by Dr. Roscoe Van Camp-

In November 2017 the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology led a task force that recommended sweeping changes to the way High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) is diagnosed and treated.  These guidelines result from many studies that demonstrate a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack with lower blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure is now considered less than 120 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic.  Elevated blood pressure is 120-129 mm Hg systolic and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg.  Hypertension is now a blood pressure 130 mm Hg or higher systolic or greater than 80 mm Hg diastolic.  All adults are recommended to have a blood pressure check at least once a year.

Blood pressure is measured with a cuff that constricts the arm.  The systolic pressure (higher number) represents the pressure that the heart generates with each contraction.  The diastolic pressure (lower number) represents the pressure that remains in the arteries while the heart is filling with blood to get ready for the next contraction.  To take an accurate blood pressure it is important to sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground for five minutes.  You should wait at least 30 minutes after exercise, caffeine or smoking.  Electronic blood pressure cuffs are easy to use.  It is best to bring in a new cuff to your next clinic visit to ensure that it is reading properly.


Elevation of either the systolic or diastolic blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.  The earlier high blood pressure is detected and treated the more benefit is gained, with up to two years longer healthy life on average.  Controlling blood pressure in the elderly also greatly reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke and adds to healthy life on average.  

Everyone should optimize their health habits to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.  Smoking and all tobacco products should be avoided.  There is no safe amount of smoking.  Even second hand smoke should be avoided.  The “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension” (DASH) diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products with a reduced content of saturated fat.  For detailed information go to  Decreasing sodium intake to under 1500 mg per day and eating foods rich in potassium are important elements of a healthy diet.  Losing weight is needed for most American adults.  The blood pressure improves on average 1 mm Hg for every 2 pounds of weight loss.  Physical activity that increases the heart rate for 150 minutes per week helps with heart health and weight loss.  Lastly, alcohol use should be moderate for adults with the maximum daily intake of alcoholic beverages limited to two for men and one for women.

Managing high blood pressure is best done as a team.  Your efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle and following your care plan, your provider and their staff managing your medication and appropriate laboratory testing.  The specific medication recommended is individualized for you.  Often more than one medication is required.

The providers at Seward Community Health Center are anxious to help you with all your medical needs.  We are a certified Patient Centered Medical Home and have a team of professionals to assist you.  Call us a 907 224-2273 for an appointment to join our team for better health in Seward.


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