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New guidelines lower definition of high blood pressure

In "To Your Health," the Washington Post (11/13, Bernstein, Cha) reports, "Acting for the first time 14 years, the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and nine other groups redefined high blood pressure as a reading of 130 over 80, down from 140 over 90." This "change means that 46 percent of US adults, many of them under the age of 45, now will be considered hypertensive." The Post points out that "under the previous guideline, 32 percent of US adults had hypertension.

On its front page, the New York Times (11/14, A1, Kolata, Subscription Publication) reports that "under the guidelines...the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure will triple, and the prevalence among women under age 45 will double."

Bloomberg News (11/13, Cortez) reports that the update "is based on a three-year review of almost 1,000 studies."

USA Today (11/13, Painter) reports that "the guidelines, presented at a heart association meeting and published in...the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, also spell out exactly how heart care providers and people at home should check blood pressure." For instance, physicians "and nurses are urged to let patients rest five minutes first and then to average at least two readings over two visits." Meanwhile, "patients are urged to take regular readings at home, with a device checked by their health care providers."

Do you have a cold or the Flu?

Sick Emojis
Symptoms Cold Flu
Complications Rare High(100F-102F), can last 3-4 days
Headache Rare Intense
General Aches, Pains Slight Usual, often severe
Fatigue, Weakness Mild Intense, can last up to 2-3 weeks
Extreme Exhaustion Never Usual, starts early
Stuffy Nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Usual Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Common
Cough Mild to Moderate Common, can become severe
Complications Sinus Congestion, Asthma, or Headache Bronchitis, Pneumonia; you may need to go to a hospital
Prevention Good hand washing and avoiding sick people Flu vaccine once a year, wash your hands well avoid sick people, and antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and oanamivir (Relenza)
Treatments Over-the-counter products to ease symptoms Over-the-counter products to ease symptoms, prescription treatments: oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) within 24–48 hours after symptoms start Peramivir (Rapivab) for some cases taken by IV

Winter Tips and Tricks to Stay Warm and Safe

Winter conjures up thoughts of the family gatherings, sitting by an open fire, and hot chocolate, but it is also important to recognize that the cooler temperatures of the season can be dangerous. During these chilly winter months, take precautions to avoid hypothermia and frostbite.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hypothermia and frostbite can lead to serious health problems. Hypothermia is when the body has been exposed to very cold temperatures for a long period of time. This uses up the body's stores of energy, lowers the body temperature, and can cause people to stop thinking clearly or move well. Frostbite is actual physical injury to the tissues of the body which causes loss of feeling and color in the affected areas. Areas often affected by frostbite include the nose, cheeks, chin, ears, fingers, and toes.

How to spot hypothermia? Look for shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness in adults. In infants, look for bright red, cold skin and very low energy. If the person's temperature is less than 95 degrees Celsius, seek medical attention immediately.

How to spot frostbite? First signs are redness or pain in any skin area. It may progress to white or grayish-yellow skin, waxy or firm skin, and numbness. Victims are often unaware that frozen tissues are numb until others point it out.

You are at risk for hypothermia and frostbite if you are not properly dressed for cold winter weather. When planning outdoor winter activities, try to dress in loose fitting layers, water resistant boots, gloves/mittens, hats, scarves, and a water resistant coat. Prevent hypothermia and frostbite by preparing your home, cars and yourself for cold winter conditions in case there is a winter emergency.

The most important thing to remember is to seek medical attention as quickly as possible if you or someone you know appears to be experiencing frostbite or hypothermia. Find a warm dry place out of the elements; remove wet clothing, stay warm under dry clothes and blankets, and place areas affected by frostbite in lukewarm water. Avoid excessive rubbing or massage of areas with frostbite and avoid excessive heat as it may damage your skin further.

Please visit the CDC website where this handy information on how to prepare for winter weather and other disasters can be referenced.