Billions of dollars are spent every year in the U.S. on medications that reduce the risk of heart disease—the No.1 killer in Florida.

Heart disease accounts for 3 out of 10 deaths in Florida and in 2014 there were 42,835 heart attack hospitalizations, or an average of 117 heart attack hospitalizations each day. About half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. By eliminating these risk factors and others we can take steps to reduce heart disease-related deaths in Florida.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart Disease can include:

Heart Attack
Ischemic Stroke
Heart failure
Heart Valve Problems

In the United States, the most common type of cardiovascular disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to heart attack. CAD is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. CAD is also called coronary heart disease; arteriosclerotic heart disease; CHD.

Atherosclerosis is the term for the process of fatty substances, cholesterol, cellular waste products, calcium and fibrin (a clotting material in the blood) building up in the inner lining of an artery. The buildup that results is called plaque.

These plaques can burst causing a blood clot leading to heart attack or stroke. Atherosclerosis develops slowly and silently, over decades. It is often not diagnosed until it causes a heart attack because there are usually no symptoms until an artery is so clogged that the blood supply to the organs and tissues is affected.

Symptoms will depend on the location of the blockage.

  • In the heart: The symptoms may be similar to those of a heart attack (chest pain).
  • In the arteries leading to the brain (carotid arteries): People might have stroke symptoms like sudden numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, difficulty speaking or slurred speech, or drooping facial muscles.
  • In the peripheral arteries (usually the legs): The most common symptom is weakness, burning, and pain in the legs when walking, that can be relieved by rest. Another symptom of peripheral artery disease is intermittent claudication. Claudication is limping or impaired gait when walking or recurrent cramping.

Coronary artery disease can cause a heart attack or stroke. Stroke can lead to severe brain damage and disability, or even death. A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is reduced, such as when a blood vessel to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot. This prevents the brain from getting the blood and oxygen it needs. Without oxygen, the nerves in the brain begin to die within minutes. The type of disability caused by a stroke depends on the extent of brain damage and the part of the brain that is damaged. The more time that passes without treatment, the greater the damage to the brain. 

You can greatly reduce your risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

2017 Guidelines for the Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Management of High Blood Pressure in Adults 

As of November 13, 2017, high blood pressure is defined as readings of 130 mm Hg and higher for the systolic blood pressure measurement, or readings of 80 and higher for the diastolic measurement. That is a change from the old definition of 140/90 and higher, reflecting complications that can occur at those lower numbers. According to the new guidelines almost half (46%) of the United States adult population will have hypertension. While approximately 14 percent more people will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, there will only be a small increase in the number of people who will be prescribed medication. By lowering the definition of high blood pressure, the guidelines recommend earlier intervention to prevent further increases in blood pressure and the complications of hypertension.   

The new blood pressure guidelines are as follows:

Blood Pressure Guidelines

Other Guidelines Include:
• Only prescribing medication for Stage I hypertension if a patient has already had a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke, or is at high risk of heart attack or stroke based on age, the presence of diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease or calculation of atherosclerotic risk

• Identifying socioeconomic status and psychosocial stress as risk factors for high blood pressure that should be considered in a patient’s plan of care.

Please find attached, resources for your reference in understanding the new blood pressure guidelines.

For a more information, please visit the AHA website.

Source:  Florida Department Of Health