You’ll likely never notice symptoms of high blood pressure, so it’s important to understand the disease and live a healthy lifestyle to manage yours or your loved one’s elderly blood pressure.

Blood pressure refers to the pressure or force of your circulating blood against your blood vessels’ walls. If the force is too high, your heart works overtime to pump blood.

Blood pressure is one of the four basic vital signs. While low blood pressure is concerning, over 70 percent of elderly experience the chronic disease high blood pressure aka hypertension.

People over age 50 are most at risk. After menopause, a female’s risk is highest.

Systolic and Diastolic Measurements

Your blood pressure readings include two different numbers. The top is the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom is the diastolic pressure.

  • Systolic: This measures the force of your heartbeat on your arteries’ walls. A normal elderly blood pressure reading should be <130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
  • Diastolic: This measures the resting phase between heartbeats. A normal reading should be <80 mm Hg.

High Blood Pressure Types

There are two types of high blood pressure:

Primary Hypertension aka Essential Hypertension: This is the most common type of hypertension. The exact cause is unknown. However, over a person’s lifetime, their blood pressure may increase due to poor lifestyle choices, age, and their environment.

Secondary Hypertension: High blood pressure results from other medical conditions or medications. The condition escalates quickly. Blood pressure measurements are usually even higher than those with primary hypertension.

Causes may include:

  • Pheochromocytoma (a tumor above the adrenal gland)
  • Renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the arteries to the kidney)
  • Atherosclerosis (plaque build-up in the arteries)
  • Hyperaldosteronism (the over production of the hormone aldosterone)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Thyroid issues
  • Sleep apnea
  • Taking illegal drugs

Risk Factors for Elderly Blood Pressure

What are the other risk factors for elderly blood pressure besides age?

  • Obesity
  • Race (African Americans’ risk is highest.)
  • Family history
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive alcohol
  • Tobacco use

Consequences of Unmanaged Hypertension

It’s important to get an evaluation by a doctor and start your treatment as soon as possible. Be consistent with taking any prescribed medications.

Over time, unmanaged hypertension can lead to serious medical conditions such as:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney disease
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid buildup in lungs
  • Hypertensive emergency

Hypertensive Emergency

There are times high blood pressure becomes a crisis. Readings will be at or over 180/120 mm Hg. While many people won’t experience symptoms even at this critical level, symptoms might include:

  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nose bleeds

Lowering High Blood Pressure

How can you remedy high blood pressure? Try these tips*:

  • Exercise: Get your heart rate up with a weekly minimum of 150 minutes of exercise.
  • Manage stress: Practice breathing techniques.
  • Good sleep: Get 7-9 hours of sleep nightly.
  • Eat healthy: Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Focus on limiting sodium and saturated fat intakes. (Extra pounds lead to blood vessel and kidney changes.)
  • Limit alcohol: According to Mayo Clinic, just three drinks in a short period increase blood pressure. Never consume more than two drinks (men) and one drink (women) daily. Alcohol may react with medications. Heavy drinkers that greatly scale back or quit can reduce both systolic and diastolic numbers.

Unfortunately, lifestyle changes may not be enough to normalize elderly blood pressure. If left untreated, a >180/120 mm reading can result in death 80 percent of the time, so it’s important to understand your risks and manage hypertension effectively.

Are you suffering from elderly blood pressure? Need help in your home? Contact A Peaceful Way Home Care for possible solutions.

*Always check with your medical professional before making changes in your lifestyle including exercise and diet changes.