Is High Blood Pressure Inevitable as I Age?

Heart disease kills more adults in America than any other chronic condition, and high blood pressure is a major contributor. While it’s true that age is a risk factor for high blood pressure, it’s important to know that heart disease and risk factors like high blood pressure are largely preventable.

With a few heart-healthy tips, you can reduce the chances of developing high blood pressure at any age. Here, the team at CA Heart and Vein Specialists explains hypertension and the risk factors you should be aware of.

What is a healthy blood pressure?

Normal blood pressure is below 120 over 80. A doctor confirms high blood pressure when you have consistently elevated readings of 130 over 80 or higher. Developing heart-healthy habits and sticking to them helps fight high blood pressure and can even reverse a hypertension diagnosis. 

Certain factors increase your risk of developing high blood pressure — and, yes, age is one of them. However, hypertension is not inevitable as you get older, especially if you take steps to avoid it. It’s vital to know all of the factors that could lead to a diagnosis of high blood pressure so you can make changes and take action to protect your heart.

Non-modifiable risk factors

We call things beyond your control non-modifiable risk factors. Age falls into this category. Here are factors related to who you are that increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. 

Age

It’s true that the older you are, the more likely you are to develop high blood pressure. Your body goes through various changes as you age. As you get older, your blood vessels gradually lose some flexibility, making them stiffer than when you were younger. This stiffness, along with other age-related physiological changes increases your risk of high blood pressure.

Family history

High blood pressure tends to run in families, making family history an important risk factor for hypertension. The chances that you’ll develop high blood pressure are higher if you have close relatives with hypertension.

Gender

Men are at a higher risk of developing high blood pressure than women until around age 64. Once men and women reach their mid-60s, we see more women than men developing high blood pressure. 

Race

African-Americans are prone to high blood pressure more than people of other ethnic backgrounds living in the United States. We also find that it’s usually more severe and harder to control with available medications.

Modifiable risk factors

The reason heart disease and high blood pressure are largely preventable is because many of the major factors that put you at risk are within your control. The following are four major modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease as well as simple steps you can take to lower your risk.

Obesity

Today, most Americans are overweight or obese. The days of cavemen foraging for food are long gone, and with the hectic demands of today’s life, many people find themselves reaching for convenience foods. These, unfortunately, have too much salt, sugar, and fat and too little nutrients, which puts most people on the fast track to carrying excess weight.

The good news is that blood pressure responds dramatically to even modest weight loss. Losing 5%-10% of your body weight can significantly lower your risk for developing high blood pressure as well as bring it down if it’s already elevated. 

Poor dietary choices

No one’s perfect. A slice of pizza here and there, or a piece of pie on occasion, is unlikely to cause major problems. Trouble arises when you choose nutrient-poor foods most of the time. A diet filled with nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains lowers your risk of high blood pressure. 

Lack of exercise

Bodies are meant to move. People who don’t get enough physical activity have a higher likelihood of developing hypertension. 

Aerobic exercise is an excellent way to prevent high blood pressure and make your heart stronger. Walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling are examples of aerobic activities that benefit blood pressure. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week.

Be proactive

Our cardiovascular specialist, Dr. Majed Chane, conducts screenings to assess your risk for heart disease. He recommends routine checkups for women and men age 45 and over, and you should start annual screening at age 40 if you have factors that raise your risk for heart disease.  

To learn more and to schedule your screening, contact our Huntington Beach, California, office or use our convenient online scheduling tool.

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