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What is Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure (hypertension), is a major and common health problem affecting older adults. Your body has a network of blood vessels called the vascular system that changes with age. Arteries become stiffer, triggering blood pressure to rise. This can happen even to people with healthy heart habits who are quite sound. High blood pressure (HBP), sometimes referred to as “the silent killer,” often doesn’t lead to signs of illness you can see or feel. Although it develops in nearly half of all adults, many HBP patients may not even know they have developed it.

If HBP isn’t controlled via lifestyle changes and medication, it can result in severe health problems, including cardiovascular disease, for example, heart disease, stroke, vascular dementia, kidney disease and eye problems. The good news remains that blood pressure is controllable in most people.

What is blood pressure?

The term Blood pressure(BP) is defined as the force of blood that pushes against artery walls as the heart pumps blood. When a professional doctor measures your blood pressure, they wrap a blood pressure cuff around your arm, which gradually tightens. They give the results in 2 numbers. The 1st number, systolic blood pressure, indicates the pressure your heart contractions cause when pushing out blood. The 2nd  number, diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure exerted by your heart when it relaxes and fills with blood.

A BP reading is given as the systolic blood pressure number over the diastolic blood pressure number. The classification of BP levels is based on those 2 numbers.

Low Blood Pressure

Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is systolic blood pressure that is below 90 or diastolic blood pressure below 60. If your blood pressure is low, you may feel lightheaded, dizzy, weak, or even faint. The cause can be lack of enough fluids, blood loss, certain medical conditions, or medications, as well as those prescribed for HBP.

Normal Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure for a majority of adults is defined as a systolic pressure that is below 120 and a diastolic pressure that reads below 80.

Elevated Blood Pressure

Elevated blood pressure refers to systolic pressure from 120 to 129 with a diastolic pressure below 80.

  • HBP is from 130 or higher for the first displayed number or 80 or higher for the second displayed number.

For older adults, the first number (systolic) is often 130 or higher, but the second number (diastolic) is below 80. Such a problem is known as isolated systolic hypertension and it’s caused by age-related stiffening of the major arteries. This is the most common form of HBP in older adults. It can trigger serious health problems besides shortness of breath when the patient engages in light physical activity. Another issue can be lightheadedness if you exercise and break or stand too fast and falls.

It is super necessary to pay regular visits to your doctor to have your blood pressure checked and, if it is high, plan how to manage it.

 

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