Aging and high blood pressure

Cardiovascular disease is one of the top reasons of death for people, older than 65 years.

Epidemiological research in developed countries have shown that the number of heart failures and strokes is reducing each year which is a good sign.

Healthy way of living and exclusion of harmful risk factors is the key

This is the basis for an optimistic view into the future since the scientists have discovered that older population’s healthy way of living and exclusion of harmful risk factors (smoking, unhealthy food, obesity, not enough exercise, high level of fat in the blood) is even more effective at preventing death as it is with younger people.

Still, high blood pressure (or hypertension) is much more likely to emerge when a person ages.

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Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases

There are numerous risk factors with older people: 20-30% of older people are obese, 20% of them are smokers, 6% of elderly people have a disturbed glucose tolerance (hidden or developed diabetes) and 40% of older men / 50% of older women have high blood pressure.

Higher systolic blood pressure and smoking are the two most hazardous factors that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

High blood pressure accelerates the emergence of arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease at an early age.

High blood pressure is even more dangerous for people who also have diabetes, coronary or kidney disease or if the patient has a history of heart attack or stroke.

World health organization is trying hard to enforce the awareness that even older patients can benefit from preventive measures that can extend their life.

People once thought that high blood pressure prevents old people from dying as it was supposed to enable better circulation of blood for internal organs. This wrongful point of view resulted in lack of treatment of hypertension with very old people.

Aging and structural changes in your body

Aging causes structural changes in veins walls making them less elastic. Systolic hypertension is defined as an elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP). It is a common disease for elderly people and represents an increase in systolic blood pressure above – 140 mm Hg and a decrease of diastolic blood pressure below 90 mmHg.

For more information refer to this article on what is normal blood pressure.

Isolated systolic hypertension increases the risk of stroke up to three times and the risk of heart failure by up to two times. Recent clinic studies that examined the impact of treating high blood pressure with medicines for elder people showed that this approach is highly useful. The number of strokes, heart failures and sudden deaths has greatly reduced.

Treatment of high blood pressure at old age

Once high blood pressure (above 140/90 mm Hg or above 140 and below 90 mm Hg) is discovered you should immediately consult with a doctor. The doctor will list the measures which will lower your blood pressure and reduce associated risks. Keep in mind that proposed measures will likely interfere with your everyday life style.

Here are the basics rules you should follow:

  • Change your eating habits (for start avoid salty food),
  • exercise more (take a walk every day),
  • quit smoking,
  • lower your body weight,
  • consume less alcohol.
  • The fact that this measures interfere with someone’s life is the main reason that the enthusiasm of patients for this kind of treatment is greatly reduced. We all know how hard it is to change life style all of a sudden.

    General advice for older people

    Monitor your blood pressure constantly. You can either ask your personal doctor to do it for you or you can do it on your own at home with your own device. See this article on how to measure your blood pressure.

    Make sure you live a healthy life, have a healthy diet, limit the intake of salt, stop or greatly reduce drinking of alcohol drinks, exercise regularly and quit smoking. Take your prescribed medicine regularly.

    By following these guidelines you will greatly reduce the risk of heart failure or stroke.


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