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Reduce the Risk of Coronary
Heart Disease

During February, Heart Month, the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is promoting the importance of controlling high blood pressure, also called hypertension, in order to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and other related chronic disorders in adults. John B. Kostis, MD, a cardiologist and director of the Cardiovascular Institute, encourages men and women who may be at risk for high blood pressure to follow a healthy lifestyle and speak with their physician who can recommend antihypertensive treatment that provides protection against major cardiovascular-related events, such as heart attack and stroke.

positive U.S. Army heart operation

“Changes in blood pressure are part of the aging process,” says Dr. Kostis. “Although there are differences in cardiovascular risks between men and women, there is no difference in the response to treatment of hypertension with blood pressure-lowering medication, or high cholesterol with statins. Therefore these therapies should be used to reach target blood pressure, or cholesterol levels, respectively, to reduce risks of heart disease and improve long-term health regardless of gender.”

According to Kostis, systolic pressure, measured while the heart is pumping, increases with age, while diastolic pressure, measured while the heart is at rest, steadily increases until around age 50 and then begins to steadily decrease. Generally, most persons up to age 80 should have a target blood pressure of 140 systolic pressure over 90 diastolic, while the target blood pressure for adults over the age of 80, who are in good health, is 150 over 90.

Although a change in blood pressure is true for both men and women, women experience a somewhat steeper rate of increase in systolic pressure between 40 and 60 years of age. However, Kostis emphasizes that men and women respond the same to antihypertensive treatment and benefit long-term from its protective properties.

“In addition to following a healthy lifestyle, adhering to physician-prescribed medication to lower blood pressure and cholesterol has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack, and extend people’s lives,” says Kostis. A healthy lifestyle includes avoidance of smoking, maintaining normal body weight and engaging in physical activity.

Kostis adds that younger adults who avoid tobacco use and follow a healthy lifestyle with low-fat, low-sodium diets and regular physical activity, may delay the onset of hypertension.

Kostis discusses the importance of treating hypertension and addresses the difference in cardiovascular health between men and women in a new video posted on Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Youtube page at:

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