What You Might Not Know About Your Blood Pressure

The Sprint Blood Pressure Trial released new data last year that may offer alternatives for older adults with high blood pressure.  The major study of people over 50 with a top blood pressure number between 130 and 180 or 75 years and older with a high risk of stroke, heart or kidney disease has shed some new light on conventional wisdom surrounding hypertension.

A healthy lifestyle including daily physical activity, moderate salt consumption, adequate sleep and controlling weight remain the cornerstones for preventing high blood pressure.  But the Sprint Trial found that in some cases treating high blood pressure with medication to lower it may cause some harm.  The surprising data collected in the study found that intensive treatment to lower blood pressure can also result in low blood pressure causing fainting (and fall-related injury) and kidney problems.

Older adults should carefully consider the risk of adverse effects and talk in detail with their doctor before adding or increasing medications.

Did You Know?

  • 65 per cent of Americans over the age of 60 have hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Only about half of adults with hypertension are controlling this major risk factor for stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease
  • High blood pressure does not always show symptoms and can surge in the morning
  • A lower systolic number (the top number) is most important over the age of 50 – new research has found lowering this number to 120 decreases risk for heart failure, nonfatal heart attack or stroke by up to one-third of those studied.
  • Losing weight, cutting back on salt and eating a healthy diet while getting regular exercise can lower blood pressure up to 5 points –  as well as medication in many cases.
  • Taking deep, calming breaths can lower blood pressure
  • Hand grip exercises can also lower your blood pressure by nearly 10 per cent
  • Many non-prescription medications including NSAIDs like Advil and Motrin as well as pseudophedrine (decongestant) can raise blood pressure
  • You shouldn’t stop taking blood pressure medication because your numbers improve – talk with your doctor about making adjustments

To learn more about high blood pressure prevention and treatment and to better understand blood pressure readings, visit the American Heart Association by following this link: understanding blood pressure readings .