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AGING CONDITIONS: HYPERTENSION

[High Blood Pressure]

 


Introduction

The arteries are the vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to the tissues and organs of the body. Hypertension means higher than normal pressure or tension in the arteries. Chronic high blood pressure is a "silent" condition, it can cause blood vessel changes in the back of the eye [retina], abnormal thickening of the heart muscle, kidney failure, and brain damage.

 

Measurement of Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured as a ratio of systolic and diastolic pressure.
The systolic blood pressure, the top number, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood into the arteries.

The diastolic pressure, the bottom number, represents the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes after the contraction. The diastolic pressure, therefore, reflects the minimum pressure to which the arteries are exposed.

Normal blood pressure - pressure below 120/80

Pre-hypertension - pressure between 120/80 and 139/89

High blood pressure - pressure of 140/90 or above

For individuals older than 50 years of age, systolic hypertension represents a greater risk. Hypertension affects approximately 1 in 4 adults in the United States.

Blood Pressure Monitors

 

Effect of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is 140/90 or more and means your heart must work harder to pump the blood, risking damage to the heart and the arteries. This increases the risk of developing end-organ damage diseases such as: heart disease, kidney disease, hardening of the arteries [atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis], eye damage, and stroke [brain damage].

Whereas it was previously thought that diastolic blood pressure elevations were a more important risk factor than systolic elevations, it is now known that for individuals older than 50 years of age systolic hypertension represents a greater risk.

Guides To Lowering Your Blood Pressure

A quiz to help diagnose your likelihood of having high blood pressure

A quiz to determine your cholesterol

 

Risk Factors in Hypertension

In over 90% of cases the cause of high blood pressure is unknown. Typical unavoidable factors that increase the chance of having high blood pressure include:

  • Your age - blood pressure tends to increase with age.
  • Family history - if your parents have high blood pressure, your risk is greater.
  • Race - African Americans are more likely to have high blood pressure than are white Americans.

Avoidable risk factors include:

  • Excess weight
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • High salt consumption
  • Physical inactivity


Overweight and Obesity

Excess body fat, especially in the waist area, presents a significant risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. This is true even if no other risk factors are present.


Treatment for Hypertension

Treatment for blood pressure is normally a combination of a change in lifestyle, in particular diet and exercise, and treatment using medication.

Nutrition

Adjustments to the diet have proven effective in supporting lowering blood pressure. In particular, lowering alcohol and salt intake. Key nutrients supporting the lowering of blood pressure include: Omega-3, Peptides and Mineral Supplements.

See All Blood Pressure Supplements

Exercise

30-60 minute workouts of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, three times a week significantly reduces your risk of heart attack and heart disease. Exercise can help control blood cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, thereby
helping to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke.

Good exercises include: brisk walking, gardening, housework, aerobic dancing, jogging or running, rowing, swimming and sports such as singles tennis, racquetball, soccer and basketball are appropriate activities.

Check with your doctor before you begin a vigorous activity program, especially if you're middle aged or older, have heart disease or another medical problem, and have been inactive for a long time.

Guides To Cardiac Exercise & Rehabilitation

Medication

Typcially medication used to treat hypertension is either:

For a full list of drugs used to control hypertension: visit MedicineNet

For the latest news and treatments on hypertension

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