Now that the summer is coming to a close, many of us feel that it’s time for a fresh start, a feeling that is sometimes reserved for the beginning of the new year.
If you’re among the many who are ready to get back on track with your health, or if the lazy days of summer have kept you from staying current with the latest health news, here are some recent happenings:
1. How Low Can You Go?
No, I’m not talking about the “Limbo Rock“ and those memorable lyrics of Chubby Checker’s. We may not still be singing his song (although now it’s stuck in my head!), but those words have new meaning: Our blood pressure may need to go lower. Just when you thought your blood pressure was something to brag about comes a major study that was ended more than a year early because the data that had accumulated was so overwhelming—so convincing that federal health officials announced that they had “potentially lifesaving information.”
The risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes was reduced by a third and the risk of death reduced by a quarter in the study participants who were assigned to reach a systolic blood pressure (the top number) goalbelow 120. Since nearly one in three adults in this country has high blood pressure, the study is sure to shake up a lot of people.
Not too long ago we thought we were good with a systolic number of 140 or lower. However, as Dr. David Reboussin, the principal investigator for the study’s coordinating center, told the New York Times, people with high blood pressure should not panic and do not need to rush to their doctors to ask to have their medications changed. Stay tuned for some updated guidelines, which are being discussed by the committee.