Hypertension: Lifestyle Changes and Risk Reduction Strategies

Hypertension or known as high blood pressure is one of the most common medical conditions in older adults. It is when your blood pressure measures higher than normal. Although your blood pressure changes during and after physical activities, if it's constantly measured above the normal blood pressure range, you are most likely to be diagnosed with hypertension.

As people age, the systems of blood vessels usually change and become prone to stiffness. This is the reason why blood pressure increases, leading to hypertension. People suffering from hypertension sometimes don't know they already have the condition since it doesn’t usually show any signs. That’s the reason why it’s essential to regularly check your blood pressure with a doctor or at home to catch and treat it early.

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure refers to the pressure in your arteries as the heart pumps and pushes blood against the arterial walls. In measuring blood pressure, there are two numbers involved which are:

In measuring blood pressure, the number above is the systolic pressure, and below it is the diastolic pressure. Below are the classification of blood pressure levels:

Symptoms

Hypertension is considered a “silent killer” as it doesn’t involve any signs or symptoms. However, if symptoms do occur, you may experience any of the following:

  1. Frequent headaches
  2. Irregular heart rhythm
  3. Nose bleeds
  4. Vision changes

In severe cases of hypertension, the patient may experience:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Nausea
  3. Chest pain
  4. Muscle tremors
  5. Anxiety
  6. Vomiting

Symptoms may vary from person to person. To confirm if you have hypertension, it’s crucial to consult your doctor.

Risk Factors

Certain habits and medical conditions can increase your risk of Hypertension. Some conditions that make you more susceptible to hypertension are:

Other risk factors of hypertension include:

  1. Age - As you age, many changes happen in your body, including the cardiovascular system. That’s why older people have a higher risk of getting hypertension than younger people.
  2. Race - Studies revealed that African and black people including Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, and Native Alaskans have a higher risk of hypertension compared to white people.
  3. Family history - Genetics also plays a vital role in getting hypertension. If members of your family have hypertension, there is a higher possibility you will eventually get the disease as you get older too.
  4. Gender - Multiple studies have revealed that women are more likely to develop high blood pressure than men, especially after the menopausal stage.

These factors are non-modifiable, meaning you cannot change or reverse them because it’s already innate in you. However, If there are non-modifiable risk factors, there are also modifiable ones:

  1. Unhealthy diet - Eating an unhealthy diet full of sodium/salt and cholesterol may increase your risk of developing hypertension.
  2. Lack of exercise - Living a sedentary life with little or no physical activity will certainly make you susceptible to hypertension. Establishing a workout routine at least 2-3 times a week will help keep your blood vessels and blood flow healthy. Additionally, cholesterol is one of the culprits of hypertension, but enough exercise will help regulate cholesterol levels in your body.
  3. Excessive alcohol intake - Many researchers have proven that excessive intake of alcohol can increase your risk of hypertension, especially in women. That’s why doctors always advise you to take your vice in moderation.
  4. Cigarette smoking - Cigarettes contain nicotine, a substance that can damage blood vessels and increase carbon dioxide in the body. This will make it hard for your body to increase the oxygen needed by your blood to carry.
Complications

Untreated hypertension will take a toll on your heart. As the arteries continue to harden, the flow of blood and oxygen will be negatively affected causing chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, and irregular heartbeats, which over time may lead to death.

Treatment

There are many medications for hypertension, and finding the right one depends on your age, blood pressure measurement, and severity of your condition. It’s crucial to talk to your doctor about the most suitable medication for you.

Some medicines that doctors may prescribe include:

In more severe and persistent cases of hypertension, other prescription medications include Alpha blockers, Alpha-beta blockers, Beta-blockers, Renin inhibitors, Vasodilators, Central-acting agents, and Aldosterone antagonists.

Hypertension Prevention Tips

Final Thoughts

One of the main causes of death is Hypertension. You may not notice or feel its presence, but you’ll never know when it will severely attack your system. That’s why either young or old, it’s important to always attend regular check-ups and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I hope this article helped you have a deeper understanding of hypertension among older adults.