Understanding High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the biggest risk factors for stroke. Yet someone can have high blood pressure and not even know it. Besides strokes, high blood pressure can also cause heart disease, kidney failure, and even issues with your eyes. That is why it’s often called “The Silent Killer!” And why it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly.
Hypertension is very common in older adults. What is blood pressure and when is it considered high?
- Blood pressure is the force pressing against the walls of your arteries.
- When checked, blood pressure is given to you as two numbers.
- The first number is called the systolic pressure. It is the pressure when your heart contracts.
- The second number is called the diastolic pressure. It is the pressure between beats when the heart is at rest.
- The most recent guidelines define high blood pressure as a systolic reading of 130 or higher and a diastolic reading of 80 or higher.
- For older adults, there are other important factors your doctor will consider in deciding whether to start treatment for high blood pressure. These include your overall fitness and other medical conditions.
What can you do to control your Blood Pressure?
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Don’t smoke and reduce alcohol intake.
- Get good sleep.
- Manage stress.