Hypertension affects adults of all ages and the risk of developing persistently elevated blood pressure increases with age. Nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and many of them are unaware of it. As arteries tend to stiffen with age, older adults are especially at risk of hypertension and that risk is constantly rising.
Internal medicine and endocrinology specialist Dr. Sam Morayati and the team at Burlington Medical Center want you to know that high blood pressure isn’t inevitable in seniors. Older men and women can take healthy lifestyle steps to lower their blood pressure. We’ve gathered information on the common causes of hypertension in older adults and what you can do to take charge of your heart health.
Blood pressure is the measure of the force against your artery walls during and between heartbeats. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. Usually, you have hypertension when your blood pressure is persistently 130/80 or above. High blood pressure often causes no symptoms and is commonly referred to as a “silent killer.” The only way to know you have hypertension is to have your blood pressure checked.
To bring your blood pressure down to a healthy level, Dr. Morayati recommends lifestyle changes, medications, or both. The recommendation to begin blood pressure medication depends on the severity of your hypertension. For mild hypertension, lifestyle changes alone are sometimes enough.
Older adults are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Here’s why:
Artery walls naturally thicken and stiffen as you age. This is one reason seniors are at an elevated risk for hypertension. When arteries are flexible and elastic blood flows freely. As you age and arteries stiffen and thicken, the heart must work harder to circulate oxygenated blood throughout your body, causing blood pressure to rise.
Older adults are more likely to have chronic diseases such as kidney disease. According to statistics from the National Kidney Foundation, kidney disease is the second leading cause of high blood pressure behind diabetes. Your kidneys have a two-way relationship with blood pressure. While kidney disease can narrow, weaken, and damage arteries, high blood pressure can also damage kidneys.
Diabetes is the leading cause of high blood pressure in adults of all ages, including senior adults. More than 14 million seniors aged 65 and older have diabetes. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure. It is especially important for seniors with diabetes to have their condition well-controlled to lower the risk of developing other chronic diseases.
It’s never too late to take steps to get or keep your blood pressure under control. Dr. Morayati offers senior patients the highest level of care. Prevention and treatment of high blood pressure in seniors aren't one-size-fits-all. Seniors often have special needs and considerations that impact treatment recommendations. Dr. Morayati provides seniors with individualized care to meet their needs.
Your treatment may include medication and lifestyle changes such as losing weight if you’re overweight and modifying your diet so that you’re limiting excess sodium, unhealthy fats, and added sugar. You should also be eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, along with heart-healthy fats.
Maintaining health at every stage of life requires adopting healthy habits, partnering with a health care provider, and making your health a priority. To learn more and for all of your primary care needs, contact us at Burlington Medical Center to schedule an appointment with Dr. Morayati at our Burlington, North Carolina office. We offer in-person and telehealth appointments.