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EDITORIAL: High blood pressure prevalent among seniors

by Healthy Living Siloam Springs Regional Hospital | September 19, 2023 at 7:00 a.m.

Getting older has many benefits -- you can retire, travel more frequently or even increase time spent with the grandkids. However, things can also get more confusing. For example, some organizations, like the AARP, consider "senior citizens" to be 50 or older, while others think being older than 65 better fits that title since it's often when Medicare benefits become available.

What's not a benefit, however, is that seniors are especially vulnerable to high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. High blood pressure is a serious medical condition that can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps blood. Blood pressure readings have two numbers -- systolic and diastolic. Blood pressure levels are classified as follows:

Normal blood pressure for most adults is a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80.

Elevated blood pressure is a systolic pressure between 120 and 129 with a diastolic pressure of less than 80.

High blood pressure is a systolic pressure of 130 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 80 or higher.

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 65% of people older than 60 have high blood pressure. And while men are more likely to develop high blood pressure before age 55, women tend to experience it after menopause. This is because our blood vessel walls stiffen as we age, making us more prone to hypertension.

Several factors can contribute to high blood pressure, including age, gender, family history and race. Pre-existing medical conditions, such as chronic kidney disease and diabetes, also can be a factor. According to the CDC, 6 out of 10 people with diabetes also have high blood pressure.

While some risk factors are beyond our control, there are things we can do to help prevent or manage high blood pressure, such as maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation (no more than one drink per day for women and two for men) and getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.

Cutting back on salt also can help, so limit sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg (or one teaspoon) per day.

Now's the time to live it up, but let's make sure your heart's not under pressure while doing it!

Have concerns? Talk to your doctor.

If you're concerned about your blood pressure or haven't checked your numbers in a while, it's probably time to see your doctor. If you're looking for a provider, visit NW-Physicians.com to find one near you.

About Siloam Springs Regional Hospital

Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is a licensed 73-bed facility with 42 private patient rooms. It is accredited by the State of Arkansas Department of Health Services and The Joint Commission. Some services include inpatient and outpatient surgery, emergency medicine, medical, surgical and intensive care units, obstetrics, outpatient diagnostic services and inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. With more than 50 physicians on the medical staff, Siloam Springs Regional Hospital provides compassionate, customer-focused care. SSRH is an affiliate of Northwest Health, the largest health system in Northwest Arkansas. Siloam Springs Regional Hospital is located at 603 N. Progress Ave. in Siloam Springs. For more information, visit NorthwestHealth.com.

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