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Seniors’ Blood Pressure


I’ve noticed that eating properly, monitoring cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and getting regular exercise is always recommended to improve and maintain our overall health. In that regard, I have been taking cholesterol lowering pills since age 60 and blood pressure pills since age 70. At age 80, the doctor doubled my blood pressure pills after two systolic readings over 160 during an office visit. He also told me to monitor my blood pressure at home, so I purchased a “Life Source Blood Pressure Monitor UA-767 plus” for $59.00 and used it often. And I still ended up in the hospital with a high cholesterol reading and uber high BP.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. When a health care professional measures your blood pressure, they use a blood pressure cuff around your arm that gradually tightens. The results are given in two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, is the pressure caused by your heart contracting and pushing out blood. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, is the pressure when your heart relaxes and fills with blood.

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure-and-older-adults#:~:text=in%20most%20people.-,What%20is%20blood%20pressure%3F,are%20given%20in%20two%20numbers.


The Mayo Clinic states that our BP starts to rise a few hours before we wake up and continues rising during the day, and peaking at midday. It then drops in the late afternoon and evening and drops even lower at night while we're sleeping.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/faq-20058115 May 18, 2021


What time of Day should we take our Blood Pressure?


“Measure your blood pressure twice daily. The first measurement should be in the morning before eating or taking any medications, and the second in the evening. Each time you measure, take two or three readings to make sure your results are accurate.” This requires way too much effort, but I’ll try to start doing it right rather than when I feel like measuring it. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/in-depth/high-blood-pressure/art20047889#:~:text=Measure%20your%20blood%20pressure%20twice,sure%20your%20results%20are%20accurate


What is Normal Blood Pressure?


https://mountainview-hospital.com/about/newsroom/understanding-the-highs-and-lows-of-your-blood-pressure-reading


“The guidelines above are for the general population, but older adults’ health needs and benchmarks differ from those of younger individuals in many ways because our bodies function less efficiently with age.” After returning from the hospital, the doctor upped my BP med and my reading now are 108/68 and 110/72, so far. Perfect, but lightheadedness goes with it. In fact, I returned to my lower dose pre-hospital BP to avoid passing out. I’ll return to the new meds, but more slowly.


“The Eighth Joint National Committee (JNC 8) issued new blood pressure guidelines for seniors in 2014 recommending that individuals over age 60 aim for a reading below 150/90 mmHg. The JNC 8 recommendation for patients of any age with diabetes or chronic kidney disease is to aim for BP readings below 140/90 mmHg. Apr 23, 2021

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/high-blood-pressure-in-seniors-108019.htm#:~:text=The%20Eighth%20Joint%20National%20Committee,readings%20below%20140%2F90%20mmHg.


“There is disagreement with the JNC 8 stipulation, noted above, to raise the target systolic BP from 140 to 150 mm Hg in persons aged 60 years or older.” Feb 3, 2014

https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.113.03097


“For older adults, often the first number (systolic) is 130 or higher (not good), but the second number (diastolic) is less than 80 (good). This problem is called isolated systolic hypertension and is due to age-related stiffening of the major arteries. It is the most common form of high blood pressure in older adults and can lead to serious health problems in addition to shortness of breath during light physical activity, lightheadedness upon standing too fast, and falls.”

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/high-blood-pressure-and-older-adults


I was getting my blood pressure taken twice a year when I had my routine six-months doctor’s appointments. I now take it several times a week at home and record the time of day and the all-important numbers. I find it to be fun and it gives me the feeling that I am participating in my own heath care.


How do you Feel when Blood Pressure is High?


According to the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure often has no symptoms.


“In some cases, people with high blood pressure may have a pounding feeling in their head or chest, a feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, or other signs.


“Hypertension, the medical term for high blood pressure, is known as "the silent killer." More than 80 million Americans (33%) have high blood pressure, and as many as 16 million of them do not even know they have the condition. If left untreated, high blood pressure greatly increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. Hypertension is projected to increase about 8 percent between 2013 and 2030.


“High blood pressure can affect your health in four main ways:


· Hardening of the arteries. Pressure inside your arteries can cause the muscles that line the walls of the arteries to thicken, thus narrowing the passage. A heart attack or stroke can occur if a blood clot blocks blood flow to your heart or brain.


· Enlarged heart. High blood pressure increases the amount of work for your heart. Like any heavily exercised muscle in your body, your heart grows bigger (enlarges) to handle the extra workload. The bigger your heart is, the more it demands oxygen-rich blood but the less able it is to maintain proper blood flow. As a result, you feel weak and tired and are not able to exercise or perform physical activities. Without treatment, your heart failure will only get worse.


· Prolonged high blood pressure can damage your kidneys.


· If you have diabetes, high blood pressure can cause the tiny capillaries in the retina of your eye to bleed. This condition, called retinopathy, can lead to blindness.”

https://www.texasheart.org/heart-health/heart-information-center/topics/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/


My younger self was not concerned with blood pressure because my yearly Army physicals confirmed there wasn’t a problem. Now that I’m older, BP it is a top priority.


We owe it to ourselves to stay on top of this important aspect of our health. I know I will.

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