What Is Normal Blood Pressure? Generally speaking, the higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of damage to the heart and the blood vessels. High blood pressure is a chronic disease. If left untreated, hypertension can cause an array of health problems, including heart attack, cardiomegaly (an abnormal enlargement of the heart), heart failure, kidney failure, blindness, and cognitive impairment.
To answer the above very well you need to understand how blood pressure is measured which you can get that here.
Different People,Different Blood Pressure Concerns
In this article, we will cover the demographics that are at particularly high risk of developing high blood pressure, along with the demographics with different blood pressure management requirements so that you can understand what is normal blood pressure.
Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure
Generally speaking, high blood pressure can affect children, women, and men around the world. Despite this, certain factors such as a family history of high blood pressure, race or ethnicity, age, and lifestyle habits appear to have a contributing effect to a person developing high blood pressure. In this section, we will discuss such factors that can increase your risk of developing hypertension.
Age: The risk of developing high blood pressure is much greater in men aged 55 or above and in women aged 65 or above. This is because high blood pressure naturally rises with aging. In the U.S., high blood pressure arises in two-thirds of individuals aged 65 or above. How to treat high blood pressure in older people and special considerations will be discussed in greater depth in the next subsection. There has also been a rise in high blood pressure among children. This recent phenomenon is likely due to the rise in overweight/obese children and adolescents.
Ethnicity: The prevalence of high blood pressure is greater among African American adults when compared to adults with a Caucasian or Hispanic background. Compared to these groups, African American adults have been shown to have a higher average high blood pressure, develop high blood pressure at an earlier age, and are less likely to respond to high blood pressure treatment.
Obesity and Overweight: Individuals who are obese or overweight are much more likely to develop high blood pressure. Someone who is obese or overweight is defined by having a bodyweight that is greater than that considered healthy for a certain height.
Gender: Below the age of 55, men are more likely to develop high blood pressure. From the age of 55 onwards, women are considered to be more likely to develop high blood pressure.
Family History: Those with a family history of high blood pressure are at a greater risk of developing prehypertension or hypertension. This genetic link may be due to a sensitivity to sodium and salt which can run in the family.
Bad Lifestyle Habits: People with bad lifestyle habits are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. Bad lifestyle choices that can raise your risk of high blood pressure include: a lack of physical activity, smoking, drinking too much alcohol or coffee, and eating too much salt or too little potassium.
Lastly, it is important to note that people with high blood pressure who also have kidney damage, high blood cholesterol, or high blood sugar face even higher risks of developing stroke or heart attacks. Because of this, it is important to also have regular checks for urine albumin, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol when visiting your doctor.
Treating High Blood Pressure in the Elderly
More than two-thirds of individuals aged 65 and above experience high blood pressure. On top of this, the elderly are also at the greatest risk of a heart or brain attack. The cause of hypertension in most elderly persons is at large unknown. Contributors to the general rise of blood pressure may include medications with a blood-pressure-rising effect, diseases, and other indeterminable causes.
Systolic High Blood Pressure
In most societies around the world, an individual’s systolic pressure rises throughout their life. The same individual will often experience a drop in their diastolic blood pressure from their mid-50s to early-60s. This drop-in diastolic blood pressure causes the arteries to stiffen as the individual ages. The ensuing rise in systolic high blood pressure is referred to as ‘isolated systolic hypertension (systolic blood pressure is above 140 mm Hg, whereas the diastolic blood pressure is below 90 mm Hg). In some people, systolic blood pressure can predict a possible heart or brain attack. When a person aged 65 or above has a systolic blood pressure reading of 140 mm Hg or above, it is important to immediately consult a physician. It is important for that person to commence treatment, either by way of medication and/or lifestyle changes.
Diastolic High Blood Pressure
Diastolic hypertension on the other hand (where the systolic blood pressure is less than 140 mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure is above 90 mm Hg), does not appear to cause any risk among the elderly population. It is important to note however that if a person’s diastolic blood pressure is above 105 mm Hg, that person is nevertheless likely to require treatment and should therefore consult with a doctor.
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic (mm Hg)||Diastolic (mm Hg)|
|Normal||Less than 120||And||Less than 80|
|Prehypertension||120 – 139||Or||80 – 90|
|High blood pressure stage 1||140-159||or||90-99|
|High blood pressure Stage 2||160 or higher||Or||100 Or Higher|
|Hypertensive crisis Emergency
|180 or higher||Or||110 or higher|
Pseudo High Blood Pressure
Pseudo-high blood pressure or pseudo- hypertension is a condition caused by the calcification of arteries. With aging, calcium starts to deposit alongside the artery which can lead to inaccuracies in blood pressure readings. This means that although a person’s blood pressure is normal, the meter will register that person’s blood pressure as high.
The following are indications that may be suggestive of the possibility of pseudo high blood pressure:
- The person exhibits no other signs of high blood pressure.
- The person exhibits low blood pressure symptoms despite readings indicating high blood pressure.
- Treatment has no or little effects on blood pressure
If you suspect pseudo-high blood pressure, it is advised to consult a doctor who can perform other assessments to get a direct measurement of blood pressure.
Blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range. If your results fall into this category, stick with heart-healthy habits like following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
Elevated blood pressure is when readings consistently range from 120-129 systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic. People with elevated blood pressure are likely to develop high blood pressure unless steps are taken to control the condition.
Hypertension Stage 1
Hypertension Stage 1 is when blood pressure consistently ranges from 130-139 systolic or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe lifestyle changes and may consider adding blood pressure medication based on your risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD), such as heart attack or stroke.
Hypertension Stage 2
Hypertension Stage 2 is when blood pressure consistently ranges at 140/90 mm Hg or higher. At this stage of high blood pressure, doctors are likely to prescribe a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
This stage of high blood pressure requires medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, wait five minutes and then test your blood pressure again. If your readings are still unusually high, contact your doctor immediately. You could be experiencing a hypertensive crisis.
If your blood pressure is higher than 180/120 mm Hg and you are experiencing signs of possible organ damage such as chest pain, shortness of breath, back pain, numbness/weakness, change in vision or difficulty speaking, do not wait to see if your pressure comes down on its own. Call 911.
Which number is more important?
Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure (the first number) as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. In most people, systolic blood pressure rises steadily with age due to the increasing stiffness of large arteries, long-term buildup of plaque, and an increased incidence of cardiac and vascular disease.
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