Hypertension is high blood pressure, a very common condition in the elderly. Blood pressure is the physical force exerted by the blood that leans against the walls of the arteries. The blood pressure readings are written in two digits separated by a line. The number of the top represents the systolic blood pressure and the number of the bottom represents the diastolic pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts, pushing the blood forward. Diastolic pressure is the pressure in the arteries when the heart relaxes.
High blood pressure is more common in the elderly. At age 45, more men than men are hypertensive. At age 65, this is reversed and more women are affected. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing hypertension than non-diabetics. Having a close family member with high blood pressure also increases your risk of developing it. About 60% of all people with diabetes also have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term blood pressure on the walls of your arteries is high enough to cause health problems, such as heart disease.
Blood pressure is determined by both the amount of blood your heart pumps and the degree of resistance to blood flow in the arteries. The more your heart pumps blood and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
High blood pressure usually develops over several years and ultimately affects almost everyone. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected. And once you know that you have high blood pressure, you can work with your doctor to control it.
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Most people with high blood pressure have no signs or symptoms, even though blood pressure readings are reaching dangerously high levels.
People with hypertension may have headaches, shortness of breath, or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms are not specific and usually do not occur until high blood pressure or life-threatening hypertension has occurred.
When to see a doctor
Your blood pressure will probably be taken as part of a regular appointment with a doctor.
Ask your doctor to give you a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you are 40 years old or older, or if you are between 18 and 39 years old and you are at high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor to have you read every year.
Blood pressure should usually be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference. It is important to use an appropriately sized armband.
Your doctor will probably recommend more frequent readings if you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or if you have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The blood pressure of children 3 years and older is usually measured as part of their annual checkups.
If you do not see your doctor regularly, you may be able to get a free blood pressure test at a health resource fair or other places in your community. Public blood pressure devices, such as those found in pharmacies, can provide useful information about your blood pressure, but they may have certain limitations. The accuracy of these machines depends on several factors, such as the correct size of the cuff and its correct use. Ask your doctor for advice on using public blood pressure monitors
Within certain limits, the lower your blood pressure, the better. There is also no specific figure indicating how much daily blood pressure is considered too low, provided that none of the symptoms of the disorder are present.
Symptoms of low blood pressure
Most doctors consider chronic blood pressure to be dangerous only if it causes obvious signs and symptoms, such as:
Dehydration can sometimes cause a drop in blood pressure. Vomiting, severe diarrhea, over-consumption of diuretics and strenuous exercise can all lead to dehydration, a potentially serious illness in which your body loses more water than you absorb. Even mild dehydration (1-2% body weight loss) can cause weakness, dizziness and fatigue.
Low blood pressure can occur with:
Some of the medicines can cause low blood pressure
Heart problems: Cardiac diseases that can cause low blood pressure include abnormally low heart rate (bradycardia), heart valve problems, heart attack, and heart failure. Your heart may not be able to circulate enough blood to meet the needs of your body.
Endocrine Problems: These problems include complications with hormone-producing glands in the body’s endocrine systems; specifically, insufficient thyroid (hypothyroidism), parathyroid disease, adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease), hypoglycaemia and, in some cases, diabetes.
Severe infection (septic shock): Septic shock can occur when bacteria leave the original site of infection (most often in the lungs, abdomen or urinary tract) and enter the bloodstream. The bacteria then produce toxins that affect the blood vessels, leading to a serious and life-threatening drop in blood pressure.
Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis): Anaphylactic shock is a sometimes fatal allergic reaction that can occur in people who are extremely sensitive to drugs such as penicillin, certain foods such as peanuts or bee stings or wasps. This type of shock is characterized by breathing problems, hives, itching, swollen throat and a sudden and dramatic drop in blood pressure.
Neural-mediated hypotension: Unlike orthostatic hypotension, this disorder causes a drop in blood pressure after prolonged standing, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, nausea and fainting. This condition mainly affects young people and results from poor communication between the heart and the brain.
Nutritional Deficiencies: A deficiency of B-12 essential vitamins and folic acid can cause anemia which, in turn, can lead to low blood pressure.
A lower than normal reading does not sound the alarm unless you experience other symptoms or problems. If you experience dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, or other symptoms, you should consult your health care provider. To help you in your diagnosis, keep track of your symptoms and activities as they occurred.
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