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According to a recent study, those who regularly eat grilled or well-done beef, chicken or fish may increase their risk of developing high blood pressure. The study followed more than 100,000 men and women over more than a decade, and found that the high-temperature method of cooking meats had a statistically significant relationship to the development of hypertension.

These results are in line with earlier, animal-based research. The chemicals produced by cooking meats at high temperatures have been shown to induce inflammation, insulin resistance and oxidative stress, which can affect the inner linings of the blood vessels and lead to heart disease. It stands to reason that the human body would react similarly.

In May, we recognize both National Stroke Awareness Month and National High Blood Pressure Education Month. The correlation of these two observances is no accident -- high blood pressure sits at No. 2 among preventable causes of heart disease and stroke deaths, second only to smoking.

While conditions like stroke, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes share many similar causes, complications and treatments, a stroke is technically a condition affecting the brain. Also known as a "brain attack," stroke occurs when an artery to the brain is either blocked or it bursts, preventing the brain from getting the blood it needs and causing cells to die. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming more than 130,000 lives each year. And while advancing age is certainly a contributing risk factor, in recent years more than 30 percent of those hospitalized for stroke are younger than 65.

As part of the medical and research communities' efforts to address these health epidemics, the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology joined other organizations in the fall of 2017, releasing a set of new hypertension guidelines for the first time in 14 years.

Blood pressure categories in the new guideline are:

• Normal: Less than 120/80 mm Hg;

• Elevated: Systolic between 120-129 and diastolic less than 80;

• Stage 1: Systolic between 130-139 or diastolic between 80-89;

• Stage 2: Systolic at least 140 or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg;

• Hypertensive crisis: Systolic over 180 and/or diastolic over 120 -- call your doctor immediately if your pressure falls into this range, even if only periodically

In addition to other basic lifestyle modifications, like being moderately active at least 30 minutes each day, quitting smoking and eating a largely plant-based, whole foods diet, the new evidence indicates one should avoid open-flame cooking of foods like meat, fish or poultry. Instead, opt for healthier methods like baking, steaming or sautéing.

In honor of National Stroke Awareness Month, be sure to spread the word about how to recognize and respond to someone who might be suffering from stroke symptoms -- speed of treatment is absolutely critical to reducing the impact to brain cells, and to the potential for recovery. The medical community has adopted the acronym "F.A.S.T.," which stands for: Face Drooping, Arm Weakness, Speech Difficulty, Time to Call 911. If you recognize any of these symptoms in yourself or someone else, don't delay -- call 9-1-1 immediately and stay with the patient until help arrives.

The emergency room at Siloam Springs Regional Hospital (SSRH) is here for you and your family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through the AR SAVES program, SSRH uses a high-speed video communications system to help provide immediate, life-saving treatments to stroke patients 24 hours a day. The real-time video communication enables a stroke neurologist to evaluate whether emergency room physicians should use a powerful blood-clot dissolving agent within the critical three-hour period following the first signs of stroke.

General News on 05/16/2018

Print Headline: New dietary guidelines released ahead of National Stroke and Blood Pressure Awareness months

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