Americans frequently hear about the health issues of high blood pressure and heart disease, both of which affect millions of Americans. Many people recognize that there is a link between maintaining a healthy blood pressure and maintaining heart health. However, scientists are always searching for concrete links between preventive measures and actual results in human patients. What they found in a study published in The Lancet was that there is significant support for lowering blood pressure as a way to prevent heart disease.
…correlation between incidences of high blood pressure and heart disease.
These scientists gathered every study and clinical trial results published between 1966 and 2015 on blood pressure and heart disease. They compiled decades of research into one conclusive study on the correlation between incidences of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Essentially, what the scientists at The Lancet found was that lowering blood pressure and providing blood pressure-lowering treatment to those with a family history of heart health complications significantly lowers the incidence of heart disease.
What does this mean for those of us who are not scientists who read major academic publications? It breaks down to how we can choose to prevent heart disease in our everyday lives. The following is a summary of the general findings of these scientific studies.
Consider your family history. If you have a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, etc., talk to your doctor about early screenings, healthy diets, and possible medications. Those who have a family history of heart health complications run a much higher risk of experiencing heart disease as they age, and the earlier you are aware, the earlier you can begin to treat and prevent the onset of this deadly disease.
It may not only affect your heart! Those who have a family history of strokes, diabetes, and kidney disease may also need screenings and a plan, according to the article from The Lancet, since these conditions appear to have a connection with blood pressure and heart disease. Regular screenings and visits to your doctor will give you the most accurate information on your personal health.
Make changes advised by your doctor. Many of the changes are easy to find. Lower your cholesterol. Watch your blood pressure. Take this medication. Exercise daily. But your doctors know your body more than any heart health article or magazine, so make an appointment, make a plan, and follow through. Especially if you or your family have other health complications (diabetes, Celiac disease, cancer, etc.), you may have other risk and health factors to consider as you make a prevention plan. Doctors are best equipped to handle this knowledge and work with you to find a plan that works.
Have a team on your side. In a world where fast food, sedentary workplaces, and stressful social lives make living a simple life of health somewhat more complicated than a meeting with a doctor, you need encouragement and support. Some people find this in their social lives; others need their families to make healthy changes at home; others find online communities to support their choices, anxieties, and well being. Do what works for you (which will likely be a combination of many things), but be aware that physical and emotional health are linked! If you are happy and supported, you are much more likely to make healthy choices and take good care of your health overall. You do not need to face lifestyle changes or risk factors alone.
Ettehad, D., Emdin, C. A., Kiran, A., Anseron, S. G., Callender, T., et al. (2015). Blood pressure lowering for prevention of cardiovascular disease and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet. Available at http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)01225-8/abstract. Accessed 1/11/2016.
Medline Plus (via U.S. National Library of Medicine). (website). Heart Diseases—Prevention. Available at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/heartdiseasesprevention.html. Accessed 1/11/2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (website). Preventing Heart Disease: What You Can Do.” Available at http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/prevention.htm. Retrieved 1/11/2016.