Find the facts you need to detect, prevent, and treat hypertension in older adults.
Hypertension in older adults often sneaks up silently, remaining undetected until it becomes severe enough to cause serious health problems. Hypertension doubles a person’s risk for a heart attack, quadruples risk for a stroke, and can lead to kidney disease, vision loss, heart failure, and much more.
Before someone you love joins the 78 million Americans currently living with hypertension (or high blood pressure), learn the risk factors, signs to watch for, and what your treatment options are.
Who’s at Risk for Hypertension?
Because lifestyle choices can have a tremendous impact on blood pressure, nearly everyone is at risk for developing hypertension. By age 65, the chance of receiving a hypertension diagnosis is as high as 90%! Factors that further increase risk include:
Unhealthy eating, especially foods that are high in fat or salt
Excessive alcohol consumption
Insufficient physical activity
Race (There is a higher risk for African-Americans.)
Can Hypertension Be Prevented?
There are a number of simple ways to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range, including:
Maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that losing as little as eight pounds can decrease your risk for hypertension by 50% or more.
Limit alcohol. Cut back on alcohol consumption – in particular, for men who have more than two drinks and women who have more than one drink per day.
Get moving.Physical activity improves the flexibility of arteries and blood vessels. The American Heart Association reports that regular physical activity in and of itself can lower blood pressure numbers by up to 10 points for someone with hypertension.
Change your diet. Certain types of foods are known to help regulate blood pressure, including fruits/vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, and dried beans. Foods high in sodium or saturated fat should be avoided.
Stop smoking. Not smoking helps with maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, but also prevents damage to arteries and reduces the risk of heart disease, among numerous other health benefits.
Reduce stress. Designate time for calming self-care activities each day to alleviate the stress that causes a release of hormones that temporarily elevate blood pressure.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
In addition to adopting healthy lifestyle choices, there are a variety of medications to help lower blood pressure, including:
Beta blockers to lower heart rate and blood output
Diuretics to remove excess sodium and water from the body
Vasodilators, ACE inhibitors, ARBs and calcium-channel blockers to relax constricted blood vessels