Doctor holding senior woman's hand

Symptoms and Causes of High Blood Pressure in the Elderly

High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer” because you can suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure and still feel perfectly fine. It is common for high blood pressure to not create any signs of illness that you see or feel. However, if the condition is not controlled, either with medicine or lifestyle changes, it can lead to serious complications, such as heart disease, eye problems, kidney failure or stroke.

Anyone of any age can develop high blood pressure. However, there are some things that may increase your risk, such as:

  • Family history. For some families, high blood pressure is more common.
  • Age. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older.
  • Gender. Prior to the age of 55, men are at a greater risk of having high blood pressure. After 55, women become more likely to have elevated blood pressure, especially after menopause.

If you or a loved one are concerned about your heart health and blood pressure levels, it is important to understand what causes high blood pressure, how to lower blood pressure and what is a good blood pressure for your age.

What are the Causes of High Blood Pressure in the Elderly?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in 95 percent of cases, there is no identified cause of high blood pressure. So, the question of what causes high blood pressure in the elderly is not clear cut. One theory is that blood pressure increases as you age due to naturally narrowing arteries. However, there are some lifestyle indicators that have been linked to cases of high blood pressure. These include:

  • Living with chronic stress
  • Low levels of physical activity
  • Drinking alcohol to excess
  • Eating a diet high in fat and low in fiber
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight

While these are indicators of which to be aware, anyone can have high blood pressure. It is helpful to understand what is a good blood pressure. The chart below is a good place to start.

How Can High Blood Pressure be Reduced in the Elderly?

While in many cases, high blood pressure cannot be prevented, there are some lifestyle changes that can put you on a healthier path in general. In places like the Carnegie Village Senior Living Community, there is a focus on health and enjoyment that encourages seniors to make smart choices. These positive life changes include:

  • Losing weight. Excess weight can raise blood pressure by changing the balance of pressure-regulating hormones and increasing your blood volume. Even losing a small amount of weight can make a positive difference. Eating healthy and getting daily exercise are encouraged.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption. There are many heart-healthy ways to socialize that do not involve alcohol. At Carnegie Village, we provide restaurants, gardens for strolling and a salon and spa to create fun opportunities to spend time with friends in a healthy environment!
  • Stop smoking. Smoking both raises the risk of heart disease and damages your arteries. The sooner you stop, the better for every aspect of your health.
  • Get moving. Exercise keeps the arteries flexible, which helps your heart and can help your blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, adding regular exercise to your day could lower your blood pressure up to 10 points! At Carnegie Village, we offer solutions like yoga and fitness studios to inspire our residents to stay active.
  • Relax. The body’s stress response includes the release of hormones that raise blood pressure. In order to keep your pressure under control, it is helpful to make healthy lifestyle changes and find stress-soothing techniques.

Finding Fun and Support

The aging process affects your mind, body and social life. While some things that used to be interesting are no longer enjoyable, there are many new opportunities waiting in your golden years. Maintaining a focus on social activities, health and happiness are built into the culture at Carnegie Village Senior Living Community. Contact us today for a tour to learn more about our community and support systems.