Hypertension: What You Need to Know as You Age

Hypertension: What You Need to Know as You Age

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You can ’ t see high blood pressure, besides called high blood pressure. And most of the meter, you can ’ t feel it. But if you ’ re among the 78 million Americans with high blood pressure or are one of the 70 million with prehypertension ( higher-than-healthy lineage pressure levels ), it ’ south authoritative to understand its effects on your health—and to take legal action today to bring your numbers down to healthier levels .
Blood blackmail is the force of blood against the inner walls of your arteries. It has normal fluctuations throughout the day—falling when you ’ re relax or asleep, rising naturally in the dawn, and increasing temporarily when you ’ re under stress, excited or exercising. But when your resting blood pressure level rises besides high, it can scar, stiffen and/or de-escalate lineage vessels. This effect can double your risk for a heart attack ; quadruple your odds for a throw ; raise your risk for heart failure, vision loss, kidney problems, dementia and circulation problems such as peripheral artery disease ( which causes annoyance in your legs ) ; weaken your bones ; and contribute to erectile dysfunction in men .
older man speaking to nurse

Causes and Risk Factors

You may be at an increased risk for high lineage pressure if you smoke, are corpulence, eat a diet that ’ south low on produce and fiber and/or high in fatten and salt, drink alcohol to excess, know with chronic tension or don ’ thymine get much physical natural process. Some causes of high blood pressure can not be controlled—including your genes and your race ( African-Americans are at a higher risk ). Aging besides plays a function. tied if you do not have high blood pressure by historic period 55 to 65, your life risk for developing it is a humongous 90 percentage.

“ But doctors no longer consider high blood pressure inevitable or untreatable with age, ” says Samuel Durso, M.D., director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at Johns Hopkins .
In one Johns Hopkins discipline of 975 older women and men with high blood pressure, goodly life style steps helped 40 percentage discontinue taking blood pressure medications. other research has shown that life style changes can lower the hazard for high blood pressure in African-Americans and others at an increased genetic hazard .


A goodly life style is a solid shield against high blood coerce and its damage effects. These steps can lower your risk—and besides help lower your numbers if you already have prehypertension or high blood pressure .
Lose a little weight. Excess weight—and particularly excess fat stored in your abdomen—can raise blood pressure by increasing your blood volume and by changing the balance of pressure-regulating hormones. “ even minor slant loss can make a earth of difference, ” Durso notes, pointing to research that shows that losing merely 7.7 pounds could reduce your risk for senior high school rake pressure by 50 percentage or more .
Cut back on alcohol. “ Moderating alcohol is very significant, ” Durso says. “ If you are a homo who has more than two drinks a sidereal day or a woman who has more than one drink a day, cut back. ” While a short alcohol may relax arteries, besides much seems to have the opposite effect .
Move more. Exercise and early kinds of physical action serve keep arteries flexible and besides reduce action in the sympathetic nervous system, which can tighten blood vessels and boost blood imperativeness. If you already have high lineage pressure, even exercise alone could lower your numbers by 8 to 10 points, according to the American Heart Association .
Feed healthy blood pressure. The minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium ( found in low-fat and nonfat dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, vitamin a well as in grow and dried beans ) help your body regulate blood blackmail. Too little can raise your lineage imperativeness. so can high amounts of sodium—found in many process foods—by making your body retain water ( which boosts blood volume ) and flush tightening modest lineage vessels. Saturated fat ( found in kernel, cheese, butter, full-fat dairy products and many processed foods ) may besides raise blood press .
Quit smoking. Smoking damages arteries and raises the risk of heart disease. While you ’ re having a cigarette, the chemicals in tobacco products elevate blood pressure besides .
Soothe stress. It ’ s not clear whether mind-body therapies have a lasting consequence on blood press or reduce the risk, but it is known that the soundbox ’ s try response releases hormones that temporarily raise blood press. You ’ ll feel better, and find it easier to make early healthy changes, if you regularly practice a stress-soothing proficiency such as breathe exercises, progressive relaxation and fitness activities. One technique, meditation, has been shown to reduce the gamble for heart attacks and strokes in people with high blood pressure .

Diagnosis & Treatment

To bring your high blood press down to a healthy flat, your doctor will probable recommend healthy life style changes, medication or both. “ The decision to begin blood imperativeness medication—and the amount and type your sophisticate prescribes—will depend on the severity of your high blood pressure, ” Durso explains. “ If you have prehypertension or if your lineage pressure is mildly elevated, life style changes alone may be the first step. Losing 5 percentage to 10 percentage of your body weight, reducing sodium, improving your diet and exercising regularly will normally result in a lowering of your blood press. If your rake pressure is higher, your doctor will hush recommend these changes along with blood press medications. ”
There are six major types of blood coerce medications :

  • Diuretics
    work by helping the body eliminate extra water and sodium.
  • Beta blockers
    reduce your heart rate and output of blood, which lowers blood

  • Vasodilators, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors,
    angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)

    and calcium-channel blockers all work by relaxing
    constricted blood vessels.

“ Your doctor of the church will choose the medications that are right for you, ” Durso says. “ Often, doctors prescribe more than one medicine to control blood atmospheric pressure. You may need medications that work on several different mechanisms to bring your blood press down. Or your doctor may be able to give you lower medication doses, and reduce the chances for side effects, by combining two or three medications. ”
Two important things to know about your treatment :
Your doctor may increase your dose gradually. “ It may take a month to six weeks to bring your blood pressure down by slowly raising your medicine doses, ” Durso notes. “ Lowering blood atmospheric pressure excessively quickly can cause dizziness and increase the hazard for falls. ”
Report side effects. “ Don ’ t catch medications on your own, ” warns Durso. “ call or make an appointment to tell your repair about english effects you may be having. He or she may be able to make adjustments or switch your medication. ” Side effects can include fatigue, cold hands or feet, impotence, depression, sleep problems, pulse changes and a dry cough .
Learn more about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure in the Health Library .

Living With

high gear blood pressure frequently has no symptoms. That can make staying on track with goodly life style changes and medicine challenging—you may not feel the deviation. These steps can help you stay committed to controlling your blood atmospheric pressure on a daily basis :
Use a medication reminder system. A daily pill dispenser, electronic pill bottles that beep when it ’ second prison term for your following dose, a note on your refrigerator—use whichever reminder system works best for you. About one in two people with high blood pressure don ’ t take their drugs as directed, a mistake that can raise your risk for heart disease, stroke and other health problems .
Monitor at home. “ You are the most important member of your blood pressure command team. A dwelling blood pressure proctor will help you see if your medications and life style changes are helping, and can help you stay on track, ” Durso says. “ You can find cheap monitors at the pharmacy. ”
See your doctor as recommended. “ Your doctor may want to see you every three to four months for the beginning few years after your diagnosis, to be certain your medications and life style changes are working and to make adjustments, ” Durso says. “ For person whose eminent rake coerce is well-managed and who monitors at family, a checkup every six months may be sufficient. If your rake blackmail is within a healthy stove and you do not need medication, you may only need a recheck every two years. ”

Watch for lows and highs. sometimes blood atmospheric pressure medications can reduce your rake pressure besides a lot. If you have signs of low blood pressure—dizziness, faint, blurred imagination, nausea—contact your sophisticate. On the other hand, if your systolic ( clear ) number rises to 180 or higher or if your diastolic ( bottom ) count rises to 110 or higher, get immediate aesculapian avail .


Johns Hopkins experts continue their work in understand and treat high lineage imperativeness in ways that translate into better health today. noteworthy inquiry you can access includes these findings :

Link found between taking blood pressure medications and reduced risk
of dementia.
In a 2013 study of 3,000 older people, published in the diary Neurology, Johns Hopkins researchers found that those taking diuretics, ARBs and/or ACE inhibitors had a 50 percentage lower hazard for Alzheimer ’ sulfur disease .

Intensive treatment lowers blood pressure in African-American men.
Urban african-american men face a senior high school hazard for untreated hypertension—with black consequences. In a 5-year-long study of 309 african-american men ages 21 to 54, Johns Hopkins researchers found that medicine, home health visits and clinic appointments lowered participants ’ blood coerce importantly .

For Caregivers

If you are the partner or health professional of person with high blood pressure, here ’ s how you can help .
Ask how you can assist with medications. You can provide “ time for medicine ” reminders and help your love one take positive drugs when needed .
Support healthy efforts. Cheerleading a fresh substance abuse can inspire your love one to stick with it. But trying to control demeanor can backfire. If your loved one international relations and security network ’ metric ton making goodly changes, ask how you can help .
Get healthier together. Spouses who commit to weight loss and exercise together may be more likely to stick with their efforts. Upgrading your habits in concert can be inspire, engenders a little healthy competition, and is more commodious excessively, because you can both eat the same foods and set the lapp exercise schedule .


Blood vessels (veh-suls):  The system of elastic tubes—arteries, capillaries and veins—that carries blood through the body. Oxygen and nutrients are delivered by arteries to tiny, thin-walled capillaries that feed them to cells and pick up godforsaken corporeal, including carbon paper dioxide. Capillaries pass the waste to veins, which take the blood back to the heart and lungs, where carbon paper dioxide is let out through your breath as you exhale .
Dementia (di-men-sha): A loss of brain function that can be caused by a variety show of disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms include forgetfulness, impaired think and judgment, personality changes, agitation and loss of emotional dominance. Alzheimer ’ randomness disease, Huntington ’ second disease and inadequate rake flow to the brain can all cause dementia. Most types of dementia are irreversible .
Diastolic (die-uh-stah-lick) blood pressure: The second, or bottom, number in a rake blackmail reading. Diastolic blood pressure measures the force of blood in the arteries when the affection is relaxed between beats. A healthy read is normally below 80 millimeter Hg. Higher readings may indicate that you have high blood blackmail or are at risk for developing it .

Heart failure: When the kernel can not supply american samoa much blood as the body needs, because it can not fill completely or can not pump with adequate coerce. Diabetes, high blood blackmail, heart disease and center valve problems can cause kernel bankruptcy. Heart failure does not mean the heart is about to stop. Medications and life style changes can reduce symptoms .

Peripheral artery disease (puh-rif-er-uhl ahr-tah-ree dih-zeez): A build-up of fat and cholesterol deposits called plaque in arteries in your legs, arms, steer or home organs. This reduces lineage menstruate, causing pain, apathy and a heavy, aching sensation when walk or climbing stairs. peripheral artery disease can increase the risk for slow-healing infections, besides. Treatments include quitting smoke and controlling blood blackmail, cholesterol and blood sugar .

Saturated fat: A type of fatten found in abundance in butter, wholly milk, frosting skim, full-fat cheese, fatty meats, poultry hide, and palm and coconut oils. Saturated fat raises levels of heart-threatening LDL cholesterol in your bloodstream. It can besides interfere with your torso ’ s ability to absorb blood sugar well. Limiting saturated fatten can help control your risk for center disease .

Sympathetic nervous system: The organization that produces the “ fight or flight ” response and prepares you for stress or an emergency. It ’ s responsible for readying the body for action : increasing the heart rate, breathing rate and alertness. The body ’ s parasympathetic nervous system does the opposite. It slows heart and breathe pace, bringing on a smell of relaxation.

Read more : Smoked Pork Shoulder

Systolic (sis-tall-ick) blood pressure: The crown, or first, numeral in a blood pressure reading. Systolic blood pressure is the imperativeness in the arteries during a blink of an eye. For most people, a healthy systolic blood pressure recitation is below 120 millimeter Hg. Rising systolic blood press may indicate that arteries are becoming stiff or that there ’ s a build-up of plaque .
doctor listening to patient's chest - stay on top of your heart health

Stay on Top of Your Heart Health

If you have a newly or existing heart trouble, it ‘s critical to see a doctor of the church. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care .
Check your heart health

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