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Hypertension in the Elderly: What You Should Know

As you reach past the age of 60, your health becomes more and more important, especially as your lifetime of unhealthy habits have a way of catching up on you. For one, there’s hypertension to consider.

Do you have hypertentsion? What caused it? This article will tackle these questions and more to keep you informed, prepared, and healthy as you move to another chapter in your life.

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is referred to a condition wherein you have an abnormally high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as it circulates throughout your body. The pressure is highest when your heart pumps blood, called the systolic pressure, and the pressure is low when the heart is at rest, which is the part in between beats. This is then called diastolic pressure.

When someone takes your blood pressure, they usually give it in the form of a fraction. The higher number is the systolic pressure, while the lower one is the diastolic. So when you get a reading of 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury), that means your systolic is at 120 and diastolic is 80.

Normal Blood Pressure in the Elderly

A person’s blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day. It rises when you are active, excited, or nervous. It is low when you are at rest, especially when sleeping. Normal and health blood pressure should be lower than 120/80 mmHg in the elderly.

When Does it Become Hypertension?

When your blood pressure is between 120-139 / 80-90, that is something to be concerned about because that is prehypertension. Left unchecked, that can develop into full-blown hypertension.

140-159 / 90-99 is Stage 1 Hypertension, 160 or higher / 100 or higher is Stage 2 Hypertension. Meanwhile, anything higher than 180 / 110 is an emergency case.

What causes hypertension in seniors?

Typically, there is no one specific cause for hypertension. It is usually a result of another medical problem or effect of medication.

Factors contributing to you having hypertension as you grow old are:

  • being overweight
  • having family history of hypertension
  • have been in prehypertension levels in the past
  • over age 45 in men and 55 in women

Lifestyle factors contributing to having hypertension

  • eating too much salty food
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • smoking
  • not having enough potassium in diet
  • having sedentary lifestyle
  • exposure to long-term stress
  • drug abuse

Risks for having high blood pressure

Left untreated, hypertension can lead to:

  • enlargement of the heart leading to heart failure
  • aneurysms in certain parts of the body such as the arteries, brain, legs, intestines
  • kidney failure
  • hardening of arteries leading to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or amputation of the leg
  • blood vessels in the eyes can burst or bleed, which may result to blindness

 

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