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"Why does blood pressure increase with old age?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy does blood pressure increase with old age?

Question

Why does blood pressure increase with old age? If it's just the way bodies work, then I won't fight it too hard myself. But if this happens in my family because as people get older they more sedentary, then that's unacceptable to me. So what is the age ? blood pressure connection?

Answer

It is true that blood pressure does increase with age. We are not completely sure why it happens. We know that as people age, their arteries become stiffer (atherosclerosis) which can result in abnormally high systolic blood pressure (the top number) with normal diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number). Despite the fact that blood pressure does increase with age, it is still clearly detrimental to cardiovascular health. There is clearly a direct link between high blood pressure and the risk of stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, and coronary artery disease. Thus just because that may be the way the body works, it still should be countered with lifestyle changes and medications until it is in a normal range. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician (family doctor or internal medicine doctor). You can discuss you current blood pressure and determine if it is acceptable in light of your other medical conditions (i.e. kidney disease or diabetes which require lower blood pressures). If your systolic blood pressure is greater than 140, then you will likely need to start a medication to lower your blood pressure. In addition, you can discuss lifestyle modifications such as exercise, lowering salt in your diet, and weight loss that can all contribute to bringing your blood pressure back to a normal range

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