More than half of all seniors have it: hypertension, better known as high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is actually an overall view of your general health, particularly of your circulatory system. If your blood pressure is too high, you put yourself at risk of having a stroke, heart failure, damage to your arteries and kidney disease.
How high is too high and what can you do about it?
Healthy blood pressure readings should be below 120/80. The risk of heart disease can actually begin to increase once your levels reach 115/75. Once your systolic range reaches 120 to 139 and your diastolic range reaches 80 to 89 you have reached pre-hypertension. Stage 1 hypertension is anywhere from 140 to 159 over 90 to 99 and Stage 2 hypertension readings will be 160 or higher over 100 or higher. By this point, you should be actively involved in whatever it takes to lower your blood pressure.
Risks for Hypertension
- Using too much salt
- Excess alcohol intake
- Family history
- Those suffering from diabetes or chronic kidney disease
How to Maintain Normal Blood Pressure
- Eat a low salt and low fat diet
- At least 30 minutes of exercise each day, such as walking or household chores
- Develop a healthy, nutritious diet, one that emphasizes fruit, vegetables and grains
Since so many of us find lifestyle changes difficult, medication is also an option and if your hypertension is severe, a combination of both is best. There are three types of medication to treat high blood pressure:
Thiazide Diuretics Usually tried first, these medications will help the body eliminate sodium, or salt and water.
Beta Blockers These medications cause your heart to beat slower and with less force, often combined with one of the medications from the above group for maximum effect.
Angiotensin-converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors Commonly prescribed along with thiazide diuretics, ACE inhibitors counteract a natural chemical that narrows blood vessels, which in turn eases pressure on the blood vessels.
Each of us is different and your doctor may try different combinations of medications along with lifestyle changes to ensure that your blood pressure is the best it can be. Work with your doctor to come up with a plan that will improve your overall health and enable you to live your life as well as you can.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. For more information or if you suspect you may have hypertension, please contact your health practitioner.