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Recent research in America and Australia has found that we may need to tighten blood pressure guidelines to further reduce risk of stroke, heart failure & kidney disease.

Here we look at how blood pressure is measured, the current guidelines, why we need to maintain good blood pressure and how we can bring down or maintain a healthy blood pressure.

Blood pressure readings are a combination of two measurements;

  • Systolic - is the highest pressure against the arteries as the heart pumps. The normal systolic pressure is usually between 110 and 130mmHg.
  • Diastolic - is the pressure against the arteries as the heart relaxes and fills with blood. The normal diastolic pressure is usually between 70 and 80mmHg.

Currently GP's class 'normal' blood pressure to be 140/90 or below and anything above as high. From the recent studies in America and Australia, we are now being told the new normal will be 120/90 or below and anything above will be classed as high blood pressure.

High blood pressure means that your blood is pumping with more force than normal through your arteries. The added stress on the arteries can speed up the clogging of arteries with fatty plaques. These plaques contribute to illnesses such as heart attack and stroke.

Ways to bring down your blood pressure include;

  • Reduce your alcohol intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet, that is low in salt & processed foods
  • Exercise every day
  • Give up smoking

If this isn't enough, you may have other factors to consider and may need to be put on blood pressure medication.

If you haven't had your blood pressure checked in a while or have any concerns please visit your GP for a check up.

A gene has been identified that puts women at higher risk of heart disease than men. 

The study suggests that women who had a particular version of the BCAR1 gene were more likely than other women to have heart attacks & strokes unlike men who had no increased risk. 

Researchers say this adds to the evidence on how women and men experience heart disease differently. 

Read more on this study here.

After an extensive study, research shows that pregnant women who suffer from preeclampsia have a higher risk of delivering a baby with a congenital heart defect. 

Congenital heart defects affect every eight births per one thousand and are a major cause of infant illness and death despite advancements in medical care. It was discovered that congenital heart defects in infants were more frequent with women who had preeclampisa during pregnancy. 

This study will provide the basis for future research to try and prevent and detect these diseases, read more on this study here.

With another positive outcome from a recent study, a glass of red wine receives a big tick as apart of a healthy lifestyle.

The study was performed using a group of diabetic patients who generally abstained from alcohol. This study showed that when having a glass of red wine it led to healthier blood fat profiles, including more 'good' cholesterol compared with 'bad'.

The article also mentions that some individuals whose bodies broke down alcohol slowly also achieved better blood sugar control. 

The same benefits were not seen with white wine, which suggests that it was the plant compound found in red wine that were important.

Read more here.

By now, we all should know that sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) does not discriminate; fit or lazy, fat or thin, old or young - anytime, anywhere SCA could strike and your best chance of survival is having CPR performed and better yet a defibrillator at the ready.

This was all too familiar at a primary school in California where an 8 year old child's heart stopped beating.

Two teachers performed CPR before the child was collected by an ambulance and received a shock from a defibrillator - thankfully, in this case the little girl, Karla survived. 

Karla didn't know it, but had an underlying condition called Long QT syndrome which is an electrical problem with the heart that puts people, kids and adults at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. 

Her parents want a greater awareness of CPR along with mandatory CPR training in all Californian schools. 

Congratulations to the teacher's who kept this little girl's heart pumping until medics arrived. We also think all schools should have a defibrillator available so there is no need to wait for an ambulance to arrive for the heart to receive a shock.

Read more on this story here.

A recent study again confirms that having a dog in your life can lead to a healthier lifestyle, including a significant number of cardiovascular benefits. 

Some benefits include;

  • encouraging physical exercise
  • enhancing a person's sense of well being
  • lowering blood pressure and heart rate

Another interesting outcome was that people with dogs have less 'cardiovascular reactivity' when mentally stressed - meaning the heart rate and blood pressure rise less and return to normal more quickly.

Read more on this study here.