Dangers Of High Blood Pressure To A Senior’s Health
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition in which there is increased force of blood flow against the artery walls. Statistics show that the elderly is more likely to have hypertension and that it affects two out of three individuals aged 75 years and above. High blood pressure in seniors increases the risk of a person experiencing stroke, coronary heart disease, kidney failure and other life-threatening diseases.
Because of this, it is important to treat hypertension. A study by Dr. Marvin Moser, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Yale University, observed more than 700 octogenarians with hypertension who were being treated with medication. The results of the study revealed that medication lowered the risks of heart attack and strokes by 30% and the incidence of heart attacks by 20%. Thus, it has been proven that medical treatment is effective in preventing hypertension.
High Blood Pressure Treatment Approaches
Two of the most common medicine prescribed to hypertensive patients are diuretics and beta blockers.
Diuretics are medicines that reduce the volume of the blood, effectively lowering the blood pressure. They help the kidneys flush out excessive water and sodium, thereby lessening the chances of heart attack and hypertension.
Beta blockers, on the other hand, are drugs that dilate the blood vessels. As a result, it becomes easy for the heart to work properly.
Aside from diuretics and beta blockers, a physician may also prescribe enzyme inhibitors, channel blockers and receptor blockers to lower the risk of high blood pressure.
Hypertension may also be prevented through ways other than taking medicine.
One way to lower blood pressure naturally is to decrease the level of sodium in the body and to follow a balanced diet. Nowadays there are diets that are specialized for hypertensive people. Two of these are the DASH diet and the SALT diet.
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension or DASH diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables as well as fat-free/low fat dairy products to reduce the sodium level in body. On the other hand, the SALT diet which stands for “Selecting the right food, Adding taste, not sodium, Learning to read labels, and Tips and tricks” also aims to reduce the salt in the body.
It is also recommended to eat foods that are healthy for the heart. Avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking is also a helpful way to lessen the risks. Regular exercise and losing even a little bit of weight may also reduce the risk of hypertension.
Rest & Sleep
Getting the right amount of rest and sleep may also help relieve hypertension. Stress is a big factor to high blood pressure so learning to manage stress decreases the risk of it. Doing exercises that will help an individual unwind from stress may also help to lower blood pressure.
It is important also to know, especially if the patient is elderly, about other medical conditions as medicines might develop perverse effects to the patient because of these. Other medical conditions are necessary to take into account because it may be linked to hypertension.
High Blood Pressure Measurements
When measuring the blood pressure of an elderly person, it is also important to measure it while they are standing, lying or sitting. This is because the elderly have a tendency to develop postural hypotension, or the condition of having excessively low blood pressure when standing. Postural hypertension can cause lightheadedness and falling. If the patient has postural hypotension, the doctor may prescribe lower doses of anti-hypertensive medicines.
Generally, a measurement of 120/90 is considered pre-hypertension (medical term for high blood pressure). A measurement of 140/90 is considered hypertension. A related post on this site, New Seniors High Blood Pressure Guidelines 2014, has more information about high blood pressure measurements for the elderly, and recommendations from latest findings.
Basically, a combination of medication and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is what it takes to lessen the risk of hypertension. Moreover, it is still important to have a check up with a physician once in a while.
Top Image Credit: Blood Flow Diagram by Bruce Blaus, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0. Thank you.