According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure is a medical condition where the pressure in the arteries of your heart is elevated. This high pressure is caused by the narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to heart disease. It affects more than 1 in 3 adults in the U.S., and has the chance to be fatal.
Researchers have found that if you are over the age of 60, your chances of having high blood pressure are 1 in 2. About half of all cases of high blood pressure are caused by genes, and the rest are caused by lifestyle factors such as eating too much and being inactive.
Here are some of the things that seniors have to understand about hypertension.
People are at risk of developing hypertension if they belong to the following:
- Obese or overweight
- Taking a diet that is low on fiber or high in fat
- Intaking salty food and alcoholic beverages
- Living with continuous stress
- Sedentary lifestyle or those who don’t engage in physical activities
There are risk factors that cannot be changed, such as genes and even your race. It is said that African-Americans have a higher risk of developing hypertension. Furthermore, complications trigger the older you get. Upon reaching the age of 55, the chances of acquiring this particular health condition will start to grow exponentially.
Fortunately, age-related factors can be averted already. For instance, having a healthy lifestyle can reduce the possibility of developing hypertension. That means that eating healthy foods and doing regular exercise is essential to the prevention of this disease.
Here are some ways you can lower your risk factors for hypertension. If you already have this condition, the following can help you manage it.
- Weight management – Being obese can increase your blood pressure. The more fat you have in your body, the higher your blood volume becomes. In turn, it can change the balance of various hormones that regulate blood pressure. In fact, even a slight drop in your weight can help you a lot when it comes to managing or preventing hypertension.
- Lower alcoholic intake – Alcohol is a common source of cardiovascular disease and diabetes – one in five men and women in the U.S. and around the world are problem drinkers, and the numbers are increasing, especially among older adults. You have to drink in moderation. It is true that alcohol can help in relaxing the arteries. But at the same time, having too much can negate this benefit.
- Exercise more – Physical activities, such as exercise, ensure that the arteries are flexible and healthy. Moreover, these activities can also decrease the activities within the sympathetic nervous system. If the latter is too active, it can cause your blood vessels to tighten. At the same time, it can also increase your blood pressure abnormally. If you have hypertension, exercise can help you manage its symptoms and prevalence.
- Healthy diet – Managing your weight and eating a balanced diet can help prevent hypertension. In fact, the American Diabetes Association recommends lower sodium foods, eating more fiber, and making sure you have sufficient fat-free dairy products. You might want to avoid saturated fat, or those fats are present in cheese, butter, meat, and processed foods. They are known to increase blood pressure. Meanwhile, healthy minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium can help manage your cardiovascular health.
Treatment And Diagnosis
Once you have developed hypertension, you have no other choice but to regulate it. There’s no way you can eradicate this problem. Your goal here is to ensure that you get your blood pressure to the right levels.
Most of the time, doctors would recommend their patients to conduct lifestyle and diet changes to make this work. At the same time, they also suggest medications that help lower blood pressure. But of course, medication is considered as the last resort. Physicians only provide this option if they think that your blood pressure is difficult to manage already.
For instance, if you have prehypertension, lifestyle changes are already enough to deal with the problem. Doing the preventive steps we have listed above is effective in lowering the blood pressure in your body. But if you have severe hypertension, doctors will recommend that you change your lifestyle and take medications simultaneously.
There are various types of blood pressure medications:
- Diuretics – They can eliminate the extra water and sodium in your body.
- Beta-blockers – Reduce blood output and heart rate
- Calcium channel blockers, angiotensin II receptor blockers, vasodilators, and angiotensin-converting enzyme – These complex medications relax constricted or tightened blood vessels