Posted on Mar 17, 2020 in Senior Health
High blood pressure is also known as hypertension and commonly referred to as the silent killer.
How does high BP earn this ominous name?
Well, some episodes of stroke can occur without any symptoms in the lead-up suggesting that the person’s blood pressure was already alarmingly high.
Hypertension is very common in adults aged 50 and above and considered a major health problem.
So, before we look at what you can do to mitigate rising blood pressure as you age, a few basics first.
Normally, your blood pressure is lower while you sleep. It then starts to rise in the hours before you wake up.
Blood pressure continuously rises during the day and typically peaks in mid-afternoon. Afterward, it begins to drop in the late afternoon and evening.
A normal high blood pressure reading for adults is 120/80mmHg with the top number (120) representing the systolic pressure and the bottom number (80) as diastolic pressure.
Systolic blood pressure is the rate when the heart beats and pumps blood while diastolic blood pressure is when the heart is at rest between beats.
A blood pressure reading from the normal rate down to 100/60 is still considered as healthy blood pressure presenting a low risk for stroke and heart attacks.
However, readings differ slightly different for seniors…
A BP reading of 140/90mmHg is considered normal for the over 60s. If BP hits 150/90, this is regarded as hypertension in seniors. If readings are higher, this should be considered potentially dangerous.
Conversely, a BP reading of 115/75mmHg is deemed normal for young adults. This would be too low for an elderly person. Potential complications of low BP can include heart attack, kidney failure, or stroke.
A blood pressure reading with a high systolic figure (150) and a lower diastolic (70) is commonly registered in seniors. This is called isolated systolic hypertension and it’s caused by the hardening of a major artery due to old age. This can lead to serious health problems in the elderly so be sure to follow up with your doctor if your reading is skewed like this.
What, then, are the causes of high blood pressure in seniors?
There’s no catch-all cause for high BP. The following areas can all be underpinning reasons for high blood pressure:
Blood vessels naturally harden with age and lose their elasticity. This hardening can lead to high blood pressure.
The heart also enlarges slightly as the muscles increase in size. The walls become thicker and the chambers larger. The aorta – the main heart artery – will stiffen and thicken too. This prompts the blood pressure to rise and causes the heart to work harder.
Men are more susceptible to hypertension than women, especially below the age of 50.
Women become more prone to hypertension after the age of 50 due to menopause.
If affected by hyper
tension, there’s a higher blood pressure load on the organs in males.
Genes have some relation to hypertension.
If there is a family history of high blood pressure, your own risk will be heightened correspondingly.
As your body mass increases, your blood pressure typically rises.
The good news is, if you are overweight, you can bring your blood pressure levels down by losing weight.
Seniors typically encounter more health problems, some of which can bring about high blood pressure.
The following diseases are most commonly linked to hypertension:
African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure younger than other demographics in the US and are also more likely to develop complications as a result.
The following factors are all liable to trigger issues regarding blood pressure:
Unfortunately, there are often no obvious symptoms if you have high blood pressure. In seniors, this can lead to a stroke if your levels are very high.
The best solution is to visit your doctor for regular blood pressure checks when you’re getting on in years.
Watch out for any of the following symptoms which can be indicative of high BP:
Now you know what to look out for, how can you combat this problem?
High blood pressure should be treated and controlled from levels of 150/90mmHg upward with or without symptoms.
If high BP is diagnosed, you can expect the following:
What, then, are the usual methods of fighting back against the silent killer?
Any of the following approaches can be effective:
Several types of medication can be used to counter high BP. Often, you take a combination of tablets.
For seniors, calcium channel blockers are most commonly used.
Take all medication exactly as directed by your doctor.
Generally overhauling an unhealthy lifestyle is one of the easiest ways to watch your blood pressure levels start falling to normal.
You should make some simple but effective tweaks to your diet, too:
Moderate daily exercise is advisable as long as you speak with your healthcare provider to determine a safe level of activity.
Options are almost limitless and include:
With any health issues as you age, eliminating stress and retaining a positive outlook can be an added advantage when you’re looking to fight back.
If you’re concerned about high blood pressure in you or your elderly loved one, feel free to get in touch with our friendly team here at Landmark Senior Living.
We’re proud of our five senior living communities helping people just like you remain independent while getting help when it’s needed. Contact us to ask any questions you have, whether about blood pressure or any other aspect of aging.