Every time your heart beats, it pumps blood through your arteries so that it can reach the rest of your body. The force of this process creates pressure on the blood vessels. In addition, when the heart rests between beats, there is pressure on the artery walls as the heart fills with blood. Both of these types of blood pressure are taken into account when measuring blood pressure. So, what causes high blood pressure?
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of those medical issues that we all have to watch out for as we age. In fact, up to 70 percent of seniors have high blood pressure.
Your blood pressure is the force of your blood as it’s pumped through your blood vessels. Blood pressure rates vary depending on what activities you’ve done during the day and other factors. Normal blood pressure is typically around 120 over 80. Your doctor will check your blood pressure at every appointment, which is one of the many reasons why it’s important for seniors not to miss their annual wellness visits.
One slightly high blood pressure reading isn’t always concerning, as long as your blood pressure is typically normal. However, when you have repeated high blood pressure readings, or a blood pressure reading that is significantly higher than usual, that’s a different issue. High blood pressure is a health problem that tends to build over time. If you have consistently high readings, your doctor may diagnose you with hypertension. If that occurs, it is important to follow your doctor’s directions and learn to manage your condition.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
Unfortunately, as we grow older, the risk of high blood pressure becomes a fact of life. Blood pressure tends to slowly increase as a part of the aging process. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure after menopause.
High blood pressure tends to run in families for a variety of reasons, ranging from similar lifestyles to genetic components. If you know your older relatives had heart disease issues, or if there is a history of heart attacks or strokes in your family, be sure to keep an eye on your blood pressure.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Alcohol consumption can damage your heart if you overdo it. Avoid drinking more than once a day and focus on moderation, and you can still enjoy an occasional glass of wine. Tobacco, on the other hand, is never safe to consume. Smoking and chewing tobacco causes your blood pressure to spike, and the chemicals in tobacco can also hurt your arteries. If you’re a smoker, this is a great time to quit.
Diet and Exercise
One of the main causes of high blood pressure is weight gain, which is often caused by a sedentary lifestyle. Exercising for just 150 minutes a week can help bring blood pressure back down into the safe zone. Diet is also a culprit when it comes to high blood pressure. Sodium is found in lots of foods and can make your blood pressure spike. Aim to consume less than 1500 milligrams of sodium a day. To accomplish this, try to make healthier choices at restaurants, learn to read labels for sodium content, and explore healthier diets.
If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, look for ways to decrease your stress levels. Stress floods your body with hormones that makes your blood pressure spike. It can also lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating and drinking alcohol. What are some healthy ways to deal with stress? Exercise is an excellent tool to lower your stress levels. You may also wish to explore mindfulness and other calming practices.
Now that you know what causes high blood pressure, what changes can you make to reduce your risk? A few healthy choices now can save you a lot of trouble down the road. Talk to your doctor for more information.
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