Common Causes of High Blood Pressure in Elderly People
High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the most common chronic conditions that affect the elderly. If left unchecked, it can lead to serious complications like kidney diseases, cardiac arrest, stroke, etc. But, what causes hypertension anyway and how can you manage it? Let’s find out.
What’s High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure that your blood exerts on the veins. When this pressure rises above the normal range, then it can force your heart to work harder, which, over a long period can harden your arteries and lead to cardiac arrest and other complications.
Blood pressure is usually read in the following format “systolic/diastolic” which is something like “120/80” or “130/80”. The first number, i.e., systolic is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, and the second number, i.e., diastolic is the pressure when your heart rests.
Blood pressure can be divided into the following categories:
- Normal blood pressure: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
- Elevated blood pressure: 120-129/less than 80
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 130-139/80-89
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 140 and above/90 and above
- Hypertension crisis: higher than 180/higher than 120
The first two ranges don’t pose any health risks. The next two are of high blood pressure which suggests that you need proper treatment. However, if your blood pressure falls within the last range, i.e., hypertension crisis, then it warrants an emergency and you should see a doctor immediately.
The exact reason for high blood pressure is still not known by healthcare experts. However, they have attributed it to the following:
- High alcohol consumption (more than 1-2 drinks per day)
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Stress and anxiety
- Sedentary lifestyle
How Can You Lower Blood Pressure?
If your blood pressure is within the range 120-139/80-89, then you should take preventive steps immediately to avoid serious health conditions. The following are some of the ways you can go about it:
1. Lowering Sodium Intake
Sodium, which is most commonly found in salty foods is extremely bad for your blood pressure. This is because it causes your body to hold more water and this extra fluid raises the blood pressure. By lowering your sodium intake, however, you can prevent the problem of high blood pressure.
Ideally, your daily sodium consumption shouldn’t be more than 1,500 mg. However, if you are fond of eating salty snacks like potato chips, namkeen, etc. then it’s possible that you are consuming sodium in excessive amounts. So, try to limit processed food and snacks as much as possible. Also, you should avoid using table salt liberally.
2. Increasing Potassium Intake
Potassium slows down the effects of sodium. So, by eating potassium-rich foods, you can also lower your blood pressure. The following are some of the best sources of this healthy salt, skimmed or low-fat milk, coconut water, fruits, beets, etc.
3. Losing Excess Weight
Overweight individuals are more prone to developing high blood pressure than healthy individuals. This is because when you have excess weight, then your heart has to work harder to supply blood to different parts of your body.
Getting in shape can do wonders for your blood pressure. In fact, by losing 4-5 kgs alone you can bring down your blood pressure considerably. Besides, a fit body can also keep a variety of other health conditions at bay which includes diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, etc.
To get fit, it’s highly recommended that you switch to a healthier and balanced diet and spend at least 20-30 minutes on physical activities on a regular basis. This combination can get you the desired results quickly.
4. Reducing Stress
When you are stressed, then your blood pressure can spike temporarily. However, if the stress is more frequent, then it can contribute to high blood pressure. If you don’t have high blood pressure currently, then stress can also increase the risk of acquiring it.
The following are some of the ways you can remove stress and anxiety from your life:
- Practice meditation and yoga every day. The former is excellent for your mental health and the latter for both mental and physical health.
- Make sure that you get at least 7-8 hours of deep sleep every night. This is because insufficient sleep is one of the most common causes of stress and it can also make you feel lethargic during the day.
- To get instant relief in a stressful situation, try deep breathing in which you can close your eyes and just count to 10 several times slowly until you feel relaxed.
- If possible, try to take acupressure sessions 2-4 times every month. The techniques involved in the same relax your muscles and nerves which is good for stress and high blood pressure.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
Hypertension might be one of the most common health conditions found in the elderly, but it can be easily prevented by taking simple steps. Most of these are explained above in detail. So, try to adopt a healthier lifestyle and you won’t have to worry about high blood pressure ever.