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Does Blood Pressure Increase with Age?

Your vascular system, which includes your body's blood vessels, will change as you get older. While many Americans in the aging population suffer from high blood pressure, there are some ways you can prevent or manage the condition.

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure can be caused by various factors. Modifiable risk factors include unhealthy diets(excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, low intake of fruits and vegetables), sedentary lifestyle, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese. These factors can be controlled and modified by changes in lifestyle and habits. Non-modifiable risk factors include a family history of hypertension, age over 65 years and co-existing diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease which cannot be changed.

Blood Pressure Changes with Age You Might Expect

The American Heart Association (AHA) has reported that the lifetime risk of an individual between the ages of 20 to 85 for developing high blood pressure is between 69 and 86 percent.

Framingham Heart Study investigators indicate that hypertension can vary by age where systolic hypertension is seen in young adults (age 17 to 25 years), diastolic hypertension is seen in middle aged (age 30 to 50 years) and isolated systolic hypertension in older adults (55 years or older).

As you get older, a higher pulse pressure is observed, where your systolic blood pressure tends to rise and diastolic blood pressure tends to fall which indicates aortic stiffness. This occurs in both people with pre-existing hypertension and those with no prior history of hypertension. For those with pre-existing hypertension, these changes can occur even if the blood pressure is well controlled with antihypertensive drugs. You can track your pulse pressure with SmartBP.

SmartBP allows you to track pulse pressure.
The SmartBP App allows you to track your Pulse Pressure.

According to a study published by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), high blood pressure is one of the primary modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease and its prevalence increases with age.

Isolated systolic hypertension is a common type of high blood pressure in older adults and is often associated with atherosclerosis and heart valve problems. Orthostatic hypotension, which is characterized by a decrease in blood pressure when standing up, is also common in older adults and can be associated with cardiovascular disease.

Hypotension and Age

Orthostatic hypotension, also known as postural hypotension, is a form of hypotension with the hallmark symptom that an individual feels light-headed or dizzy upon standing up. It is diagnosed when there is a decrease of at least 20 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure and a decrease of at least 10 mm Hg in diastolic blood pressure within three minutes of standing up. It is common in older adults and tends to increase with age. It is associated with cardiovascular disease, particularly carotid disease.

How is High Blood Pressure Diagnosed in The Aging Population?

Nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure. According to findings published by a US National Health and Nutrition Examination survey, 70% of adults over the age of 65 have hypertension.

High blood pressure is typically diagnosed by a healthcare professional using a device called a sphygmomanometer. The device has an inflatable cuff that is wrapped around the upper arm, and a pump that is used to inflate the cuff to different levels of pressure. The healthcare professional will listen to the patient's pulse using a stethoscope while gradually releasing the pressure in the cuff. The point at which the first sound of the pulse is heard is called the systolic pressure, and the point at which the sound disappears is called the diastolic pressure. These two numbers are then recorded as the patient's blood pressure reading. It is common for multiple readings to be taken over several visits to get an accurate reading.

Can High Blood Pressure be Treated?

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be treated. The first step in treating hypertension is usually making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Your healthcare provider may also recommend medications, such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, or calcium channel blockers.

If these treatments don't control blood pressure, more aggressive treatment may be necessary, such as combining medications, or using a different class of drugs. In rare cases, when lifestyle changes and medication are not effective, your healthcare provider may recommend a procedure such as renal artery angioplasty or a renal artery stent.

It is important to note that high blood pressure is a chronic condition, so it's likely that you'll need to continue treatment indefinitely. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider will help to monitor your blood pressure and make sure that the treatment plan is working effectively.

Prevention of High Blood Pressure

There are several ways to help to prevent high blood pressure for older adults. Some of the most effective ways to prevent hypertension include:

●     Eating a healthy diet: A diet that is low in salt, saturated fat, and added sugar can help to lower blood pressure. Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can also be beneficial.

●     Exercising regularly: Regular physical activity can help to lower blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

●     Maintaining a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of hypertension. Losing weight can help to lower blood pressure, especially if you're overweight or obese.

●     Reducing stress: Chronic stress can contribute to hypertension. Finding ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, yoga, or therapy, can be beneficial.

●     Limiting alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure. Men should limit their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day, while women should limit it to one drink per day.

●     Not smoking or using tobacco products: Smoking and using tobacco products can damage blood vessels and raise blood pressure.

It's also important to have regular check-ups with your healthcare provider to monitor your blood pressure and make sure that you're on track to preventing hypertension.

Tracking Your Blood Pressure

There are several ways to track your blood pressure:

Blood pressure cuff: You can purchase a manual or automatic blood pressure cuff to measure your blood pressure at home.

Smart phone apps: There are several smartphone apps that can track your blood pressure using a connected blood pressure cuff.

Wearable devices: Some wearable devices, such as fitness trackers or smartwatches, can also track your blood pressure.

Visit a doctor: You can also visit your doctor or a health clinic to have your blood pressure measured.

It is important to track your blood pressure regularly in order to monitor any changes and to know if you have hypertension or hypotension.

A&D UA-651BLE Blood Pressure Monitor connects to SmartBP.

For Caregivers of Aging Adults

If you are a partner or a caregiver of someone who has high blood pressure and is considered to be in the aging population, there are ways that you can help. Often, quality of life and maintaining independence where applicable are put at the forefront. However, before helping someone else, you may want to get in touch with their primary care professional to help better understand their high blood pressure needs.

Ask how you can help. Instead of telling your loved one what to do, ask how you can lend a helping hand. They may ask you to write down specific notes or tell them a verbal reminder throughout the day.

Support their efforts. They may want to eat healthier or exercise more regularly. As long as this is supported by their doctor, you should be willing to support their efforts to better their life. Forcing them or requiring them to make these changes will cause the opposite to occur.Instead, be gentle and ask them if they need any assistance.

SmartBP: A Smarter Way to TrackYour Blood Pressure

SmartBP is a mobile application (iOS and Android) that allows users to track their blood pressure and pulse readings.The app allows manual entry or automatic tracking of blood pressure and pulse readings using a connected blood pressure monitor. It also provides features such as tracking and analyzing the data over time, data export, and alerts for hypertension and hypotension. Additionally, the app can also remind you to take your blood reading and allow you to share the data with your healthcare provider. With SmartBP, you can keep a detailed history of your blood pressure readings, which can be useful in monitoring your blood pressure over time and identifying any patterns.

About the Author

Pranam Shetty
I started SmartBP in 2012, and since then over 6 million people worldwide have downloaded SmartBP. Everyday I'm humbled by the love from our users and continue to be driven to improve SmartBP. As a biomedical engineer, I'm always scouting for new technologies that I can utilize to help improve healthcare. When I'm not working on my apps, I'm with my kids, enjoying music, going for runs or learning to play my guitar.
I started SmartBP in 2012, and since then over 6 million people worldwide have downloaded SmartBP. Everyday I'm humbled by the love from our users and continue to be driven to improve SmartBP. As a biomedical engineer, I'm always scouting for new technologies that I can utilize to help improve healthcare. When I'm not working on my apps, I'm with my kids, enjoying music, going for runs or learning to play my guitar.

Important: The information provided is NOT a substitute for a doctor or professional healthcare or advice. Any health related information provided in SmartBP® app and this website is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the advice of healthcare professionals.

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