How to Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most prevalent health conditions impacting older adults. According to the National Institute of Health, nearly half of all adults have high blood pressure (or hypertension). This may be a shocking statistic to many, but this is simply due to how the body changes with age. Arteries stiffen, and blood pressure goes up.

The commonality of high blood pressure certainly does not mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously. High blood pressure can lead to serious health conditions such as eye problems, vascular dementia, kidney disease, heart disease, and stroke. For the sake of your overall health, it is important to understand how to maintain healthy blood pressure.

How to Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

What does healthy blood pressure look like?

If you are like many Americans, you likely don’t understand what the two blood pressure numbers mean when you get tested during your doctor’s appointment. Thankfully, the meaning is relatively simple to understand.

The first number, your systolic blood pressure, refers to the pressure that results from your heart contracting and pushing out blood. The second number, your diastolic blood pressure, refers to the pressure that results when your heart relaxes and refills with blood. Your systolic blood pressure should be the higher number of the two.

  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)—systolic blood pressure is lower than 90 and diastolic is lower than 60. You may be lightheaded, weak, or dizzy
  • Normal blood pressure—systolic pressure less than 120, diastolic less than 80
  • Elevated blood pressure—systolic pressure between 120 and 129, diastolic less than 80
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)—systolic pressure 130 or higher, diastolic pressure 80 or higher.
  • Isolated systolic hypertension—the systolic pressure is higher than 130, but the diastolic pressure is less than 80. This is the most common type of high blood pressure in older adults and can lead to problems like shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and falls.

What raises my chances of high blood pressure?

While any individual can experience high blood pressure, there are certain factors that may heighten your chances of developing the condition. These include:

  • Certain medical conditions—metabolic syndrome, kidney disease, thyroid problems, etc.
  • Age—the chances of developing high blood pressure increase as you age
  • Gender—men under the age of 55 have a higher chance of developing high blood pressure, whereas women are more likely to develop it after menopause
  • Family history—those with a family history of high blood pressure have higher chances of developing it

How can I control my blood pressure?

Despite being so common, high blood pressure can actually be controlled through lifestyle changes. If you’re concerned about developing, or treating, your high blood pressure, start with these healthy habits.

Maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen

Being overweight puts you at risk of higher blood pressure. Striving towards a healthier weight will not only help you feel good, but it will benefit your blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about what the optimal weight range is for you. Then, implement lifestyle changes that will help you achieve this number.

Aerobic exercise—which includes activities such as walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming— will make the biggest impact on this health condition. Mix your aerobic exercise with high-intensity interval training and strength training. For a healthy diet, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins should be the highest priority. Make a point to reduce your sodium intake by reading the labels of what you eat.

Take care of your blood pressure to take care of your health

Limit alcohol and quit smoking

Some studies show that drinking moderate amounts of red wine (one glass per day) may have a positive impact on one’s heart health. While this can’t be confirmed without a large, longitudinal study, the advice remains the same: keep your alcohol intake lower.

The same cannot be said for smoking. If you smoke any amount, it is important that you quit that habit. In doing so, you will not only decrease your blood pressure, but you’ll also lower your risk of heart disease, lung disease, and other comorbid conditions.

Make a point to get a good night’s sleep

Poor sleep quality on a regular basis can increase your chance of developing high blood pressure. You should strive to get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. If you struggle to meet that marker, you may be suffering from a health condition like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or insomnia. Talk to your doctor to find a solution to any of these problems.

Lifestyle changes can also help you get better sleep. Following a sleep schedule, limiting sugar and caffeine, and avoiding naps will all help you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed.

Take steps to reduce your stress

Chronic stress has been shown to have extreme negative impacts on your physical health in addition to your mental health. The first step in reducing your stress is determining what it is that is causing this undue anxiety in your life. Then, you can take steps to limit it. Some techniques include:

  • Avoiding stress triggers as possible
  • Focusing on what you can control
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Creating time for relaxation

Help from your doctor

If your blood pressure is a serious concern, your doctor may prescribe medication to help you lower your levels. They may also suggest you use a home blood pressure monitor to keep an eye on your levels throughout the week.

Support at home

For many seniors, maintaining their physical health all on their own is a daunting task. Thankfully, an at-home caregiver can help you live comfortably and confidently at home. At Home Care Powered by AUAF, our staff will proudly assist with any non-medical activities of daily living you require, including personal care, medication reminders, meal preparation, and more.

For more information on how an at-home caregiver can help you live with a better quality of life, give us a call at 773-274-9262. We would be thrilled to help you.

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