Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by Ian Evans
First thing’s first- before we begin, it’s important to define blood pressure. Another name of blood pressure is hypertension. It is the pressure blood creates against the walls of blood vessels on its way through the body. As caregivers, it’s important to manage senior blood pressure.
Blood pressure is presented in the form of a fraction. But the two numbers aren’t two parts of one fraction. Instead, the two separate numbers represent two types of pressure. One is systolic pressure that is measured when the heart contracts. The other is diastolic pressure which is the measurement of the heart relaxing between beats.
High blood pressure is a risk factor for many conditions. They include heart attack, heart failure, stroke, chronic kidney disease and many more. One in three American adults suffers from high blood pressure.
While blood pressure is pretty severe at any stage of life, it’s mainly focused on later life stages. Three in four people above the age of seventy-five suffer from high blood pressure. Unfortunately, it is also most dangerous at this frail stage.
Seniors and their caregivers must ensure that blood pressure is monitored regularly. This can be particularly important for a range of reasons which we will discuss below. You can also read up more about it here.
Senior Blood Pressure: What to Watch Out for?
This brings us to the main topic of this post – blood pressure in seniors. What is normal blood pressure through the ages? What are some possible triggers for high blood pressure?
By the end of this, you will have answers to all these questions. But, most importantly, we’ll give some tips on how to maintain it and what to keep an eye on. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with this condition yourself or are the caregiver of someone who is; we’ve got solutions for you!
Note that this blog post focuses on high blood pressure, and we won’t discuss low blood pressure. This is because it is not as dangerous as high blood pressure. Yet, low blood pressure increases the possibility of falling due to dizziness and blurry visions. So, it is definitely something to look into as well.
For now, let’s focus on high blood pressure.
Changes in Blood Pressure Throughout the Day
Our blood pressure changes throughout the day depending on many different factors. It’s the lowest when we’re asleep. And it rises when we’re stressed, physically active, or excited. Despite this, it should be stable most of the time at 120/80 mmHg. Of course, it can be lower. But as we’ve mentioned already, extremely low blood pressure isn’t good either.
Besides the regular stage, which is 120/80 mmHg, there are four other stages of blood pressure levels.
- 120-129 systolic pressure and less than 80 diastolic pressure. This indicates the prehypertension stage, meaning blood pressure levels are elevated.
- 130-139 systolic pressure or 80-89 diastolic pressure. This indicates stage 1 hypertension, meaning the blood pressure levels are high.
- 140 or higher systolic pressure and 90 or higher diastolic pressure. This indicates stage 2 hypertension. It means that the blood pressure is rising toward a dangerous level.
- Finally, systolic pressure higher than 180 and/or diastolic pressure higher than 120/80. This means that there is a hypertensive crisis.
In this case, the patient should seek medical help. 130/80 mmHg is when seeking medication from your doctor may be beneficial.
But it may also be a problem in senior patients. You see, seniors are already dealing with other issues. Those treatments are often done by consuming daily medicine. Adding blood pressure medicine may cause unwanted side effects. It can even cancel out some necessary treatment, so you must consult with the doctor.
Not only during the day, but blood pressure also changes over the lifespan. So it’s impossible comparing a newborn’s blood pressure with an elderly citizen. Young people under the age of 10 may have blood pressure as high as 115/80 mmHg. And elders can have much higher blood pressure and they are more tolerant to higher levels.
Ages 40-49 can have 139/88 mmHg as the highest number. Then, ages 50-59 are allowed to have their blood sugar levels at 110/90 mmHg max. And, ages 60-64 are allowed 147/91 as their maximum.
Signs and Symptoms of High Blood Pressure in Seniors
Firstly, it’s important to remind you not to diagnose yourself based on this list of symptoms. It is also wise not to believe everything on the internet. Only a professional can properly examine and diagnose you.
Yet, that can be tricky, considering there are no obvious symptoms of high blood pressure. This is also a reason why the majority of the people aren’t even aware they have it.
The symptoms that do appear aren’t specific to high blood pressure either. Actual symptoms only start to appear at dangerous and potentially deadly levels of hypertension.
- blurry vision
- intense headache
- difficulty breathing
- pain in the chest area
- irregular heartbeat
- pulsating in the neck, ear, chest
- bloody urine
If any of these symptoms are present, medical treatment must be given immediately. Otherwise, the patient is at risk of a heart attack or a stroke.
It doesn’t have to come to that. There are some warning signs of high blood pressure that are better not left ignored. Dizziness is the first one, and it occurs when the brain doesn’t get enough blood. Next, there are severe headaches. High blood pressure causes headaches because of the pressure in the arteries.
Higher blood pressure symptoms cause the vessels in the eye to burst. You can spot them as red spots in the eyes. This is one of the earliest signs. Chest pain happens because high blood pressure causes the arteries to contract.
In the end, measuring your blood pressure as often as possible is the only way to track blood pressure. Do not try to look for symptoms. Look at the numbers on your measuring device’s screen. You can even consider preparing a chart to write down the numbers to keep track.
Causes and Risks of High Blood Pressure
When speaking about the causes of high blood pressure, they can be divided into 2 big categories. But this depends on whether the cause is known or not. In the majority of cases of high blood pressure in the elderly, the reasons are unknown.
Blood pressure simply rises over the years, and many other factors play into it as well. This is called primary or essential hypertension. For example, the cause of high blood pressure in the elderly can be a tumor. This means that we know the cause of high blood pressure. Then, it is called secondary hypertension.
The Unknown (Not Here!) Factors
The first type usually takes years to develop. The main factors that feed into it are quite a few. They can be a sedentary and inactive lifestyle, stressful environment, poor diet and age. In other words, it means that it’s mainly developed after fifty. The risk of this type may also be increased due to hereditary reasons. So, if a family member suffered from the same medical condition, chances are you may too.
The Known Factors
Taking in a lot of salt may give you more chance to end up with high blood pressure. Being overweight, lack of physical activity, drinking and smoking all tie into this. They are all ways to end up with high blood pressure. High blood pressure can also develop during pregnancy.
Some of the risk factors for secondary hypertension include consuming birth control pills. Other medical issues like diabetes or kidney problems as well as sleep disturbances. Some prescribed drugs, as well as illegal drugs, will lead to high blood pressure as well.
But what even are the risk factors?
Risk factors are factors that contribute to high blood pressure levels. Leading a healthy lifestyle will prevent high blood pressure for as long as possible. But it cannot prevent risk factors.
Age, for example. Men over the age of 45 and women over 55 have the highest risk of developing hypertension. Generally, the older someone is, the greater the chances. Hypertension also varies from gender to gender. Men develop it earlier, while women are protected by estrogen until menopause. After that, the risk becomes the same. As for the race, black people are most at risk, while Asians have the lowest risk.
Since elderly citizens are at most risk, there are a couple of causes connected strictly to them. The process of aging on its own is the most important one.
Over the years, arteries become stiffer, making it difficult for blood to pass through. This causes the rise of blood pressure. There’s also the problem of excess weight. As a result, it becomes hard for the heart to pump blood properly, raising blood pressure levels.
Some illnesses like diabetes, kidney illnesses or genetic disposition play even a more significant role. They are known to affect elders much, much more than the younger populations.
Guidelines to Manage Senior Blood Pressure
The most important part of the article is to find out how to prevent high blood pressure. And if it’s already here, you will know how to manage it as well.
Starting off with the easiest, yet somehow too hard of a prevention method. Healthy lifestyle, filled with physical exercise, a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and salt. Drugs and smoking should also be out of the question.
Try to set your goals to exercise for at least thirty minutes per day. As for the diet, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products may help lowering blood pressure.
It goes for alcohol, too – men should not have more than two drinks a day and women no more than once a day. An unhealthy lifestyle involving drinking and smoking increases the risk of high blood pressure. Furthermore, they also increase the possibilities of heart disease, stroke, and other issues.
Insomnia raises the possibility of high blood pressure. So, try to maintain a healthy sleep schedule and try to sleep well. Even if with the help of medication. They are only prescribed, of course. Another common factor is connected to inadequate sleep and stress. Meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and daily stretches are excellent relaxing hobbies. All of them may help manage stress and blood pressure.
Healthy food consumption
If it’s too late for prevention, you will need to dive into managing high blood pressure. But the guidelines are similar for it. Lose some weight, but only if you need to. But even without that, be watchful over what you consume. Try to eat healthy, fresh, organic, local food.
Some of the desirable ingredients include fish with omega-whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid saturated fat, salt, and sodium. If you need help, don’t hesitate to consult a nutritionist.
Exercise and medication
Another important thing is to stay physically active; walk, jog, walk your pet, ride a bike, swim. Whatever makes you happy in the process, too. If that’s not helping, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor to allow you some medication.
Blood pressure medication is very common. There are multiple options available, such as diuretics, beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors. Seniors may need to experiment with a few types of medication, either alone or in combination. This will help them to find what works best in their heart.
Remember to Smile and Be Happy
- Extra salt & Excess fat
- Drugs and smoking
- Mental stress
- Physical exercise
- Fruits and vegetables
- Fish, organic and local food
- Yoga and relaxing activities
It’s very easy to allow blood pressure issues to escalate. But, honestly, the best way to manage blood pressure in seniors is by ensuring that you’re proactive about it.
Make sure you’re taking the proper medication and making the right decision to keep your heart in the best possible shape.