Do Fluctuations in Blood Pressure Increase Your Risk for Heart Disease?

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If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may want to pay closer attention to variations in your blood pressure readings. A recent study finds a possible link between blood pressure fluctuations and heart disease risk.

The Silent Killer

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is known as the “silent killer” since people often show no symptoms of this dangerous condition, even when readings climb above 140/90 – the American Heart Association’s definition of Stage 2 high blood pressure.

It’s important to closely monitor your blood pressure with your primary care provider, particularly if you have already been diagnosed with hypertension, or are at high risk due to family history, being overweight, smoking, or health conditions like diabetes and kidney disease.

Fluctuations in BP Readings May Signal Risk

What might it mean if your blood pressure readings vary greatly from one doctor’s visit to the next?

A study published in Annals of Internal Medicine took a look at the risk for heart disease and death associated with large variations in blood pressure readings.

The study followed nearly 26,000 people aged 55 years or older with known hypertension for a 22-month period. Each participant had a total of 7 doctor’s visits to check their blood pressure readings.

A follow-up of each participant after an average of 2.8 years showed that those people with greater variability in their blood pressure readings were more likely to experience fatal and non-fatal heart attacks, stroke, or death due to cardiovascular diseases.

What it Means for You

While further studies are needed to determine if there is indeed a statistically significant correlation between lower variations in blood pressure readings and decreased the risk of for heart diseases and death, it is always beneficial to work with your doctor to maintain consistently normal blood pressure readings.

Here are 5 Lifestyle Changes that can Help Keep your Blood Pressure in Check:
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise on a regular basis; ideally 30 minutes most days.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid saturated fats. The DASH diet provides great guidelines.
  • Reduce sodium in your diet. When it comes to salt, more is less.
  • Quit smoking...or never start!
Request an appointment with a cardiologist today!
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Hyasmine M. Charles, MD

Hyasmine M. Charles, MD, is a physician with Lancaster General Health Physicians Women’s Internal Medicine.

Education: A graduate of the Penn State University College of Medicine and the residency program at the University of Rochester, Dr. Charles completed her fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. She is board certified in internal medicine.

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