Many Americans deal with high blood pressure, which puts them at greater risk for health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. According to the Center for Disease Control, 75 million people, almost one in every three adults, have high blood pressure in the United States. And only about half of those with high blood pressure have control of their condition. High blood pressure was a contributing cause of death in more than 400,000 Americans in 2014.
Unhealthy behaviors such as smoking tobacco, being obese, drinking alcohol, and lack of exercise can all increase your risk of high blood pressure. Older individuals are also more likely to be affected by high blood pressure, men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are also at greater risk. Despite being at greater risk, there is still a number of measures that can be taken to reduce blood pressure. There are also medications available to people with high blood pressure to help reduce their health risks.
What is Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force which the body is pushing blood through the body and against the walls of the arteries. It is split into two categories, systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Systolic pressure measures how much pressure the blood is exerting against artery walls when the heart beats. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your blood vessels during the resting period between beats.
Normal blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm HG are considered within the normal range. Meanwhile anything higher than 130/80 mm HG is considered high blood pressure with a 180/120 requires immediate medical attention.
Blood pressure rises naturally as people age and in many seniors, a specific cause may not be known for a high blood pressure diagnosis. High blood pressure is sometimes called the silent killer because it usually does not have many noticeable symptoms until there is a problem. Therefore, getting blood pressure checked regularly is recommended.
If high blood pressure is left undiagnosed and untreated it can lead to a number of health risks including enlargement of the heart which can lead to heart failure, aneurysms in the blood vessels, hardening of the arteries, and blood vessels in the kidneys to narrow which can cause kidney failure. These risks are heightened if it is an older individual.
However, there are some things that can be done to prevent or control high blood pressure.
Following a heart-healthy diet is one easier method of reducing high blood pressure. Simply cutting down salt intake will make a difference but also eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy will help. Eating foods that have high potassium can also help reduce the effects of sodium in the blood.
Cutting back on caffeine intake will also play a role in reducing high blood pressure. Caffeine has a more defined effect in people who rarely have it, and can actually raise pressure up to 10 mm HG in some people.
Losing weight is one of the most effective ways to control blood pressure in the body. According to Mayo Clinic, in general you can reduce blood pressure by about one mm HG for every 2.2 pounds of weight that is lost. Similar to weight, waistline girth is something that needs to be watched as carrying too much weight in the waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
Going along with weight loss, regular exercise can have major effects on blood pressure. Normal physical activity, about 150 minutes a week, can lower blood pressure by about five to eight mm HG if you have high blood pressure. Being consistent is important as blood pressure can easily rise again. Aerobic exercises are a good way to lower blood pressure including walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and more.
As mentioned before, tobacco use is another factor that increases blood pressure. Quitting smoking can have major health benefits not just lowering blood pressure. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from illnesses related to tobacco use.
Cigarettes not only cause high blood pressure, they damage nearly every organ in the body and cause cancer. Smoking shortens male smokers’ lives by about 12 years and female smokers’ lives by about 11 years.
There are a number of pharmaceutical medications available for treating hypertension and lowering blood pressure. One or a combination of more medicines may be effective in treating high blood pressure.
Diuretics work because the help take the excess water and salt out of the body. By doing this, it lowers the amount of fluid in the body and therefore lowering blood pressure.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
This type of medication prevents the body from producing angiotensin which causes blood vessels to narrow and elevates blood pressure. Using ACE inhibitors prevents the narrowing.
Alpha-blockers help muscles relax in the blood vessel walls which allows blood to pass easier through the body, causing blood pressure to decrease.
This medication helps make the heart beat slow and beat with less force. This causes the blood pressure to decrease as the heart pumps less blood through the blood vessels.
About 75 million people in the country have high blood pressure. Because of this, they are at higher risk of contracting some type of heart disease or suffering from a stroke. High blood pressure played a role in over 410,000 deaths in 2014. Taking a few preventative measures like improving diet and exercising more can make a big difference on someone’s risk of high blood pressure. At Landmark Senior Living, our independent and assisted living facilities can help encourage someone with high blood pressure to reduce it and live a healthier lifestyle. Contact our admissions staff today for a complimentary walk through of one of our senior care buildings.