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Senior Health: No High Blood Pressure? Not So Fast….

Mar 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of Riverside and Corona

A typical component of an annual doctor’s visit is getting your blood pressure checked. While many Americans don’t stress about this measurement as they fall within the normal range, that definition of normal has now changed.

Here’s what to know about high blood pressure, and if you now fall into that category:

Hypertension

The scientific term for high blood pressure, hypertension is a dangerous yet common health condition. Over 3 million Americans are diagnosed with it every year.

It adds stress to your heart, as it has to work harder to adequately pump blood through your body. This extra effort can cause important vessels, like your arteries, to become stiff and scarred. If not treated or in adequately treated, it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure, among other things.

This is an especially dangerous condition as many people are asymptomatic, or show no symptoms. It used to be believed that there are certain “telltale” signs of hypertension, such as nervousness or difficulty sleeping, but these signs are both vague and not very telling.

There are, however, risk factors to look out for, such as:

  • Age (seniors are especially prone to the condition)
  • Family history
  • Not exercising
  • Race (black people are more susceptible)
  • Being overweight/obese
  • Consuming too much salt
  • Stress
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Tobacco use

New Standards

For starters, what prompted this change in guidelines? As with other changing recommendations in the field of healthcare, new evidence has shown that lowering your blood pressure to even lower than what used to be recommended could have much greater health benefits.

The high range used to be defined as 140/90 mm Hg. Now, it is 130/80 mm Hg or greater.

The old guidelines suggested lowering the systolic blood pressure, the number on top, to below 140 mm Hg. This new research, however, recommends trying to shoot for below 120 through more intensive care.

This unfortunately means that whereas there used to be 72 million American adults with hypertension, it is now 103 million.

How to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure

You may find yourself panicking that you have high blood pressure now, but fear not. These new guidelines are meant to inform and motivate Americans to live a healthier lifestyle, reframing what we view as a healthy level for our blood pressure.

The most effective method to treating and lowering your blood pressure is to make better health decision. Some suggestions are:

  • Losing unnecessary weight
  • Reducing sugar intake (including artificially sweetened foods, like diet soda)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising for at least 30 minutes several times a week
  • Consuming less salt
  • Drinking less; no more than 2 drinks a day

Talk to your doctor today about your blood pressure and whether you fall into this new range of hypertension. Some simple lifestyle swaps could help bring it back down to a healthier level.

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