Response from Cleo Wolf, L.Ac to the New York Times article "How to Lower Your Blood Pressure" by Gina Kolata.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association(1) recently renamed the levels of hypertension and also changed the assessment strategy.
Blood pressure assessments should be measured and recorded in a medical office and at home with an approved device in the morning and evening over a period of time which is not set in stone. This strategy should give a more accurate read and eliminate white coat syndrome, which occurs when a patient's blood pressure rises in a clinical setting.
The new guidelines dropped the levels back by 10 mmhg. Normal is still less than 120/80. Pre-hypertension has been eliminated and Stage 1 is now 130-139 systolic and 80-89 diastolic, which means more people will be seen as hypertensive.
This change was made because the harmful effects of hypertension (HTN) are found in people with lower blood pressures (now considered Stage 1) and to prevent more problems. This is not supposed to result in more people on medication but instead to increase awareness, improve lifestyle and seek alternatives to medication before damage is done.
As always a sensible lifestyle with adequate hydration, exercise, diet and happiness is key to well being and longevity. Meditation, Qigong and Yoga, are important features of a sensible lifestyle and can contribute immensely to wellness. Studies(2) show that acupuncture matches the effectiveness of some antihypertensive medications and is a beneficial adjunct to allopathic healthcare.
Alternative and complementary therapies can make a huge difference in health and wellness.
(2) http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1718-acupuncture-matches-drug-for- high-blood-pressure