Hypertension affects about 65 percent of adults 60 and older, and 29 percent of all adults in the country, making it “one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States”, according to the CDC.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), of which I am a member, and the American College of Physicians (ACP), have collaborated to develop an appropriate systolic blood pressure (SBP) target for patients 60 and older who have hypertension. Both the ACP and AAFP are comprised of a select group of skilled physicians, who treat hypertension on a daily basis. After reviewing the literature and multiple case studies on hypertensive patients, they introduced a “strong recommendation” for safe blood pressure levels.
First, a quick review about blood pressure numbers to ensure we have the terminology straight. Systolic Blood pressure is the top number in the blood pressure ratio, while Diastolic pressure is the bottom number. As an example, a blood pressure reading of 120/70, indicates a systolic blood pressure of 120, and a diastolic blood pressure of 70. In blood pressure readings, the units of pressure are always in millimeters of mercury, or ‘mmHg’.
Now that we have that straight, here is AAFP and ACP recommendation regarding blood pressure:
IN ORDER TO REDUCE STROKE AND HEART DISEASE IN MEN AND WOMEN 60 AND OLDER, WORK TO PREVENT SYSTOLIC HYPERTENSION; KEEP SYSTOLIC BLOOD PRESSURE READINGS BELOW 150.
Interestingly, the two groups made no recommendation to change our thinking on diastolic blood pressure. Despite this, we still aim to keep that number below 80.
So the evidence is clear; work with your doctor to combat systolic hypertension. The critical lifestyle changes to defend against hypertension are:
- Maintain a healthy weight and BMI (body mass index)
- Adopt a Mediterranean diet, which is low in sodium, and high in healthy fats and vegetables.
We will discuss these lifestyle topics more in-depth in later blogs.
If your systolic blood pressure is consistently elevated above 150 despite these strategies, it is time to get some help. The most accurate blood pressure measurements come from multiple readings made over time, both at home, and in the clinic.
If you or a family member are over 60, come in to have your blood pressure reading assessed at Pacific Urgent care and Wellness Center today! Whether you’re in Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, or La Jolla, the staff at PUCWC have your well-being in mind.
Joseph Moore, MD