Blood Pressure- 15 things you should know Stats Reveal All
Blood Pressure rises as we age AARP Bulletin Hypertension, high blood pressure, is defined as blood pressure that is 140/90 or higher. Usually the upper number or systolic pressure increases as we age. About 7% of Americans age 18 to 39 have hypertension; 32% for those ages 40 to 59 and 65% for those over 60. Part of the reason is because as we age the arteries become less elastic. High blood pressure often has no symptoms In some cases, your blood pressure can be very high with no symptoms. The only way you would know is by getting your blood pressure checked. Your goal is to get a reliable reading. Blood pressure numbers can vary 30 to 40 points throughout the day. To be accurate blood pressure should be a 24-hour test that measures the pressure three or four times an hour during the day and every 30 minutes at night. The Top Number in your blood pressure (systolic) Is the one to watch The systolic pressure that is the top number measures the force of the blood at the moment the heart beats pumping blood throughout your body. The diastolic pressure, the bottom number measures pressure between the beats. The top number is the one to watch because systolic blood pressure is the peak force that your arteries and your other organs experience with each heartbeat. Doctors Don’t Agree on what the ideal systolic blood pressure should be Doctors are still debating what the ideal blood pressure for people over 50 should be. Until recently a reasonable systolic pressure was below 140 millimeters of mercury. However last September things changed studies showed that people with a systolic pressure of 120 were one third less likely to suffer heart failure, a nonfatal heart attack or stroke. These findings encompassed a five-year trial. The Best Blood Pressure target is different for each person. Every patient is different for people that have a low cardiovascular risk a higher systolic pressure may be acceptable or a patient who is taking three or four blood pressure medications may not be able to tolerate an additional medication. The best advice is to ask your doctor about what’s right for you. Healthy Lifestyle changes can help a lot Cutting back on salt and eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can drop high blood pressure by at least five points. Losing weight also helps. Dropping 10 or more pounds can shave off more than four points from your systolic blood pressure. Also researchers found that physical activity can reduce systolic pressure by an average of 11 points in people with hypertension. So you see if you have even moderately elevated blood pressure healthy changes can mean you won’t need medication. And this would be a worthy goal to attain. Coffee Can make blood pressure rise Researchers have also found that a cup of coffee increases blood pressure by 200 to 300 mg of caffeine. That means that two or three 8 ounce cups of coffee can increase systolic blood pressure by an average of eight points. This increase in pressure can last about three hours but there does not seem to be any long-term effects. Deep Breathing can bring your blood pressure down Slowing your breathing to six breast in 30 seconds has shown that the systolic blood pressure is brought down by about three points. This may be temporary. Watching Your Salt is important especially as we age Salty food can raise blood pressure. Salt reduction has long been controversial because not everyone is salt sensitive. But as we age people tend to pile on more salt, possibly because the sense of taste fades as we age. The federal guidelines recommend less than 1500 mg of sodium a day for people over 50. This is far less than most Americans typically consume. Be aware that salt is hidden in processed foods so check labels and choose low-sodium items. When you’re adding salt keep in mind that one quarter of a teaspoon contains 575 mg of sodium. Handgrip Exercises can help Regarding alternative ways to lower blood pressure, researchers confirmed that handgrip exercises can reduce your blood pressure by about 10%. Inexpensive hand grippers are available online or at local sporting goods stores for about $10-$15. Squeeze the gripper for two minutes at a time for a total of 12 to 15 minutes. You should do this three times a week. New Meds are not necessarily better than the old ones Doctors originally treated high blood pressure with diuretics or what we know as water pills. This is one of the oldest hypertension medications around. They worked by removing the excess sodium and water from the body. Newer medications in the class of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or ACE for short prevent the body from producing hormones that raise blood pressure. However, researchers show that the newer meds may be no more effective than the diuretics though they do have fewer side effects. For Some People one medication is not enough If your blood pressure is only moderately elevated, you may need only one medication to bring it down. However, many people end up taking several medications. The individual medication will typically lower blood pressure by only a few points and at some point the body gets used to it so doctors will combine several classes of medications to reach the optimal effect. Some Over-the-Counter meds can actually raise your blood pressure Many of the cold medications you find on the shelves in the drugstore can increase your blood pressure. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aleve, Advil and Motrin can also raise blood pressure by up to six points. This can increase your cardiovascular risk if you take them regularly. Blood Pressure can go too low When people stand up and their blood pressure is not strong enough to pump blood to the brain they experience orthostatic hypertension. This condition can cause a person to fall which may cause fractures. Older people are particularly at risk for this phenomenon. So if you’re on blood pressure medication and have dizziness talk to your doctor. A prescription change may help. Stick to your treatment If you combine lifestyle changes and medication this will usually be enough to bring your blood pressure down but once you’ve achieved this, it’s very important to go on taking your medication and follow healthier habits. If you become lazy about taking your medication or stop them altogether, your blood pressure will go back up. It is also important to monitor your blood pressure regularly. As we stated before systolic pressure rises with age. Most people with high blood pressure periodically need to adjust their medication.