Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Checking Blood Pressure Is Vital for Health: An Interview with James Rippe, M.D

Magazine article Nutrition Health Review

Checking Blood Pressure Is Vital for Health: An Interview with James Rippe, M.D

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Q: At what age does high blood pressure become a significant risk?

A: There is a strong-association with age. There is a 10 percent increase in prevalence of high blood pressure per decade. In your 30's you have a 30 percent chance and that might have been masked by being in great shape. But there is a 40 percent chance in your 40's.

That's why we basically have a fundamental idea: get your blood pressure measured.

Q: What are some problems with the typical American diet?

A: I think that it's very important for people to understand that we have a lot of information about diet and blood pressure. There is also a lot of misinformation out there. The average american eats five times as much salt as recommended by the American Heart Association. People are addicted to salt in our country. We often salt our food before we taste it and we eat a lot of processed food that is loaded with sodium. I think the most important thing is to significantly cut down on the amount of salt, which, from a nutritional standpoint, is the first step.

There is also not anywhere near as strong an association between dietary fat and high blood pressure. This is just a campaign to help people be more careful about what they eat.

There is pretty good literature now that is emerging about the benefits of potassium and the benefits of calcium for helping people's blood pressure. Those are two of the hallmarks of the DASH diets--the dietary approach recommended by the American Heart Association--which involves lots of fruits and vegetables with potassium in them.

Q: Could you tell us a little about your program?

A: The initiative is called BP Success Zone. It's a public education campaign aimed at getting people to get their blood pressure measured. It is particularly aimed the 65 million adults in the United States with high blood pressure, 70 percent of whom do not have it under control.

What we're trying to do is help people recognize that people who get their blood pressure under control can significantly cut back the risk of heart disease and stroke. That type of damage can be bad over a number of years, and the only way you'll know if you have high blood pressure is to get into an ongoing relationship with your doctor. …

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