What Is Normal Blood Pressure
For years we have been told that a normal blood pressure reading is 120/80; however, more and more doctors have now lowered these numbers to 115/75. Blood pressure is different for everyone as many factors can have an effect on the numbers.
Our blood pressure refers to the amount of force behind the blood as it hits the arterial walls. As the heart pumps the blood, an ideal pressure sees the blood push against the walls that are flexible enough to expand and retract easily. Over time, our age, diet, and physical activity play a role on the elasticity of our blood vessels. With a loss of flexibility due to hardening of the walls, the heart needs to work harder to push the blood.
These factors determine the blood pressure numbers. The systolic number is the top number, and it indicates the pressure as the heart beats or pushes the blood throughout the body. The diastolic number is the bottom number, and refers to the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. During this time, the heart receives oxygen as it fills with blood.
Blood Pressure Reading Chart
Below is a blood pressure reading chart for you.
*Remember that the larger figure in your reading represents the systolic value; the smaller figure represents your diastolic value. Systolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is beating. Diastolic is the measurement of pressure when the heart is resting.
Table : Acc/aha 2017 Blood Pressure Thresholds And Targets For Seniors
|Senior Age Classification|
|BP Target||<130/80 mmHg|
We do want to treat high BP, because it reduces the chance that an individual will have a stroke or experience heart problems, Dr. Leslie Kernisan acknowledges. However, clinical studies have shown that treating high BP is most beneficial when it helps people get their systolic BP down around 150. The JNC 8 guidelines support what we geriatricians have believed for quite some time: many older adults are taking too much BP medication, admits Dr. Kernisan.
In geriatrics, the goal is to balance the likely benefits of a medication with the likely burdens and risks. “The goal of 150 may seem high, but treating to a target of less than 150/90 brings on increased risks and may not offer additional benefits.
In addition to increasing an elders prescription drug costs and compounding the potential for medication mishaps, unnecessary BP medications can cause risky side effects in seniors. Orthostatic hypotension, or a temporary drop in BP upon standing, is one of the most dangerous side effects since it can cause dizziness and contribute to falls.
Discuss any concerns you may have about a seniors BP with their physician or, better yet, a geriatrician who specializes in treating older adults. They will be able to weigh the pros and cons of beginning or adjusting BP treatment and possibly suggest alternative measures for trying to get their numbers under control.
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How Do I Lower My Blood Pressure
The steps to lower your blood pressure aren’t as painful as you may be thinking. If you smoke, you’ll need to stop. Otherwise, lowering your blood pressure is as easy as the “more of this, less of that” approach you’re used to hearing about, including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, a loss of as few as 10 pounds can lower your blood pressure.
- Consuming low levels of salt. Keep your salt intake under 1,500 mg/day.
- Getting plenty of exercise. Try to exercise for at least 90 minutes every week.
- Limiting alcohol. Keep your alcohol intake to one drink per day if you’re a woman, or two drinks per day if you’re a man.
- Eating healthy. Aim for a diet low in saturated and trans fats;and rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“Not only may young people be tempted to brush off their elevated or high blood pressure,” says Dr. Nasir, “but they are less likely to be diagnosed by doctors during their office visits. Apart from taking steps now to reduce risk factors down the road, its important to discuss with your doctor if your blood pressure is consistently high.”
This article was updated on June 2, 2021 to reflect how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts a person’s everyday health and wellness.
Which Number Is More Important
Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.
However, either an elevated systolic or an elevated diastolic blood pressure reading may be used to make a diagnosis of high blood pressure. According to recent studies, the risk of death from ischemic heart disease and stroke doubles with every 20 mm Hg systolic or 10 mm Hg diastolic increase among people from age 40 to 89.
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Understanding Blood Pressure What Is It
Your blood pressure reading is a measurement of the pressure your blood applies across your artery walls. Your blood pressure changes a little throughout the day; when you relax, your blood pressure lowers, and when you move around or feel stress, your blood pressure increases. But high blood pressure over a long term is associated with serious health risks, including heart, brain, and eye damage. Likewise, chronic low blood pressure sometimes comes with health risks. Fortunately, there are helpful ways to manage both high and low blood pressure.
Why Knowing Your Numbers Is Important
High blood pressure occurs when the force of the blood being pumped through your arteries is too strong .
Over time, extreme hypertension can cause blood vessels to become inflamed and even leak fluid or blood.
Additionally, the condition strains the heart so much that it can eventually lead to heart attack and heart failure .
Other consequences include kidney failure, stroke, and death.
If blood pressure isnt well monitored, it can lead to a hypertensive crisis
A systolic reading of 180 mm Hg or higher OR a diastolic reading of 110 mm HG or higher may indicate that a crisis is occurring.
If your reading is abnormally high, wait a couple of minutes and measure the pressure again.
If its the same or higher, seek immediate emergency medical treatment. Other symptoms may include a severe headache, severe chest pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, seizures, unresponsiveness, and severe anxiety .
If emergency medical treatment is not administered in time, the patient may suffer from :
- Damage to the eyes and kidneys
- Loss of kidney function
- Pulmonary edema
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How Can I Control My Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is very common in older people. As we age, our vascular system changes. Arteries get stiffer, so blood pressure goes up. This is true even for people who have heart-healthy habits. The good news is that blood pressure can be controlled in most people.
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of high blood pressure:
If these lifestyle changes don’t lower your blood pressure to a safe level, your doctor will also prescribe medicine. You may try several kinds or combinations of medicines before finding a plan that works best for you. Medicine can control your blood pressure, but it can’t cure it. You will likely need to take medicine for the rest of your life. Plan with your doctor how to manage your blood pressure.
Signs And Symptoms Of High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure may not have any symptoms and so hypertension has been labeled “the silent killer.” Longstanding high blood pressure can lead to multiple complications including heart attack, kidney disease, or stroke.
Some people experience symptoms with their high blood pressure. These symptoms include:
- The Feeling of pulsations in the neck or head
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What If Lifestyle Changes Dont Help Lower My Blood Pressure
If diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes dont work to lower your blood pressure, your healthcare provider prescribe hypertension medications. Your provider will take into account these drugs effect on other conditions you may have, such as heart or kidney disease, and other drugs youre taking.
You might need to take hypertension medicine from now on. Be sure to follow your providers dosing directions exactly.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/20/2020.
What Is High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities. Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure .
Your health care team can diagnose high blood pressure and make treatment decisions by reviewing your systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels and comparing them to levels found in certain guidelines.
The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ from health care professional to health care professional:
- Some health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 140/90 mm Hg or higher.2 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2003, as seen in the table below.
- Other health care professionals diagnose patients with high blood pressure if their blood pressure is consistently 130/80 mm Hg or higher.1 This limit is based on a guideline released in 2017, as seen in the table below.
|systolic: 130 mm Hg or higherdiastolic: 80 mm Hg or higher|
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, talk with your health care team about your blood pressure levels and how these levels affect your treatment plan.
What Are The Different Blood Pressure Categories
Blood pressure can be categorized into five different types, namely:
Normal: Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be normal.
Elevated: When blood pressure readings consistently range from 120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, it is known as elevated blood pressure. People with elevated blood pressure are at risk of high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control it.
Hypertension stage I: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 mm Hg diastolic. Doctors may prescribe blood pressure medications and some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.
Hypertension stage II: In this condition, blood pressure readings consistently range from 140/90 mm Hg or higher. The doctors may prescribe a combination of both medications and lifestyle changes.
Hypertensive crisis: This is the most critical condition and requires emergency medical attention. In this condition, the blood pressure suddenly exceeds 180/120 mm Hg. Contact the physician immediately if the following symptoms are experienced:
- Difficulty speaking
Effects Of Exercise On Blood Pressure
Aerobic activities such as swimming, cycling, and running put additional demands on your cardiovascular system. Your muscles need more oxygen than they do when youre at rest, so you have to breathe more quickly.
Your heart starts to pump harder and faster to circulate blood to deliver oxygen to your muscles. As a result, systolic blood pressure rises.
Its normal for systolic blood pressure to rise to between 160 and 220 mm Hg during exercise. Unless youve cleared it with your doctor, stop exercising if your systolic blood pressure surpasses 200 mm Hg. Beyond 220 mm Hg, your risk of a heart problem increases.
Different factors can influence how your cardiovascular system responds to exercise. Some of these factors include diet, medical conditions, and medications.
For instance, exercise hypertension is a condition that causes an extreme spike in blood pressure during physical activity. People with exercise hypertension can experience spikes in systolic blood pressure up to 250 mm Hg during exercise.
In general, your blood pressure should return to normal within several hours of a workout. Even then, you might notice that your blood pressure doesnt return to exactly what it was before exercise. Thats because its normal for blood pressure to drop slightly within a few hours of exercise.
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Exercise For People At Risk For Or With High Blood Pressure
Its safe to exercise if youre at risk for high blood pressure or with high blood pressure . In fact, regular exercise can help you keep your blood pressure in check.
If youre at risk for or have hypertension, speak to your doctor about the safest way to exercise. This may involve:
- choosing moderate activities
- working up to daily exercise
If youre concerned about your blood pressure, you can monitor it before, during, and after your workout.
Why Is High Blood Pressure A Concern
High blood pressure increases your chance of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and death. The problem is that people dont feel their high blood pressure, Beckman said. It can operate in the background for years, increasing the risk of these problems, but simple lifestyle changes and habits can help to manage the high blood pressure.
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Complications Of High Blood Pressure In The Elderly
High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder. Therefore, arteries take a beating and the chances of stroke, heart attack and kidney problems increase. When high blood pressure is left undiagnosed and untreated, it can cause:
- Enlargement of the heart, which may lead to heart failure.
- Small bulges in blood vessels called aneurysms. Common locations for aneurysms are the main artery from the heart , arteries in the brain, legs, and intestines, and the artery leading to the spleen.
- Blood vessels in the kidneys to narrow, which may cause kidney failure.
- Hardening of the arteries, especially those in the heart, brain, kidneys and legs. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney failure or amputation of part of the leg.
- Blood vessels in the eyes to burst or bleed, which may cause vision changes and can result in blindness.
S To Lowering Your Blood Pressure
The first line of treatment for high blood pressure is to make healthy lifestyle changes:
Its also important to take any antihypertensive medications your doctor recommends. There are many different types of medications available to control high blood pressure, so if one drug causes unpleasant side effects, your doctor can help you find a more suitable one.
Even if your doctor also prescribes you medication to help tackle hypertension, controlling your weight, quitting smoking, improving your diet, managing stress, and getting regular exercise are critical for keeping your heart in shape and managing your blood pressure over the long term.
If youve just been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or have suffered a serious health event such as a stroke or heart attack, you may be experiencing a great deal of emotional upheaval. Its important to give yourself time to process the change in your health and be kind to yourself as you adjust to your new situation. But its also important to know there are plenty of things you can do to come to terms with your diagnosis and regain control of your health.
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Blood Pressure Guidelines For Seniors
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. While 130/80 mmHg is the generic threshold for starting BP medications, there have been many disagreements among medical professionals regarding the threshold for older adults. Age, frailty and other comorbidities like diabetes and chronic kidney disease complicate this matter even further.
The Eighth Joint National Committee 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. These are not hard and fast rules, though, because each seniors health needs are unique.
What Is A Hypertensive Crisis
A hypertensive crisis occurs when blood pressure suddenly rises above 180 systolic and/or 120 diastolic. This prompt either a hypertensive urgency or hypertensive emergency.
A hypertensive urgency accounts for about 75% of hypertensive crises. In these cases, a person has high blood pressure, but without any serious accompanying symptoms. A hypertensive emergency requires immediate medical care, as high BP is accompanied by one or more serious symptoms, including:
- Acute pulmonary edema
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Whatabout Low Blood Pressure
In some cases, medications designed to lower blood pressure can bring it down to an unhealthy range. However, there’s no universally defined level for abnormally low blood pressure. According to the AHA, the important factor in determining whether your blood pressure is too low is whether you have symptoms of low blood pressure, which could include fainting, dizziness, nausea and dehydration .
According to Dr. Miller, it’s important to understand that older people can experience symptoms of low blood pressure at higher levels than when they were younger.
“We need to be careful in men and women who are around 80 or older and have been living at a systolic blood pressure of 150 to 160 mm Hg,” Dr. Miller says. “If we drop blood pressure too low for that person, that might compromise blood flow to the brain and cause a stroke. In these situations, the goal would be a more modest reduction, to around 130 to 140 mm Hg.”
Therefore, although the ideal or “normal” BP level is the same for all, older individuals may feel differently at different levels. Always see your doctor for individualized monitoring and treatment.