Tips for Older Adults Managing High Blood PressureJanuary 19, 2022
Havingelevated blood pressure isn’t ideal at any age, but uncontrolled blood pressure is an especially dangerous health risk for seniors. Managing high blood pressure can help reduce your risk and even improve your quality of life.
How High Blood Pressure Affects Seniors
Among older adults, isolated systolic hypertension is most common. This occurs when the systolic measure (the first number) is 130 or higher and the diastolic (second number) is less than 30. As you age, your arteries stiffen and contribute to this condition. In the short term, you may notice shortness of breath with minimal exertion and getting lightheaded if you stand up too quickly, which can elevate your risk of falling.
Left unchecked, high blood pressure in seniors can result in numerous serious health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Your eye health is also at risk, and even your brain function can be affected by your vascular health. In fact, some scientists believe treating your hypertension can even help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Tips for Managing High Blood Pressure
While there’s no cure for high blood pressure, with the right combination of medication and heart- healthy lifestyle changes, managing high blood pressure is possible. By making some adjustments, you’ll reduce the risks of high blood pressure and related life-threatening complications. The good news is, none of these tips requires drastic measures.
Drop some weight. Losing as little as 10 pounds can improve your blood pressure, so if you’re carrying a little extra weight, your heart health is a great incentive. Make that first 10 pounds your first goal, then if you have more to lose, apply what you learned to make it that far and keep up the good work!
Add some exercise. Increasing your physical activity will likely help burn some calories and contribute to your weight loss, but that’s not the only reason to get moving. Managing high blood pressure is just one of the advantages of being more active. Movement gets your blood pumping, which promotes your cardiovascular health, delivers more oxygen throughout your body, and helps build muscle tone and strength, among other benefits.
Dial back the stress. When you experience stress, you may recognize it most in your mind. In fact, stress creates numerous physical responses, including constricting your blood vessels, which causes blood pressure spikes. Reduce your stress, and the potential bad habits you may develop in response, by practicing mindful meditation or other relaxation techniques on a regular basis.
Skip the salt. Consuming too much sodium makes your body retain water, which increases your blood pressure. Fluid buildup around your lungs and heart creates a great deal of strain, so reducing salt in your diet can help reduce your risk. Many foods already contain a great deal of salt, so a starting point is to skip adding salt to your plate. Also avoid foods that are notoriously salty, like soup, lunch meat, pizza, and bread.
Curb your sweet tooth. Some researchers believe sugar can be as detrimental to your heart health as salt—if not more so. Remember that sugar doesn’t just come in candies and sweets. Particularly if you eat a lot of processed foods and carbs, you may be consuming more sugar than you realize.
Hit the sheets. Snoozing soundly helps your body rejuvenate itself; that’s why you wake feeling refreshed after a good night of sleep. Studies show sleeping less than five hours a night may contribute to higher blood pressure. To get better sleep, try following a schedule so your body recognizes when it’s time to enter rest mode, avoid napping during the day, and make sure your mattress, linens, and room temperature are all comfortable.
Find Support to Make Wellness a Priority
A wellness journey is most successful when you have plenty of encouragement and support. At Winchester Gardens, our commitment to whole-person wellness means you can count on guidance and assistance in meeting your wellness goals, from managing high blood pressure to dancing at your grandchild’s wedding. Learn more about the wellness resources—including our on-staff dietitian—you can count on, a variety of living options to choose from, and how our continuum of care ensures your healthcare needs will be met no matter what the future brings.