High blood pressure may be a common condition, but it should never be taken lightly. Even though nearly half of American adults age 18 and older suffer from prehypertension or hypertension, high blood pressure isn’t diagnosed the same way for everyone (1).
In fact, blood pressure guidelines vary according to the age of the patient, meaning that the 120/80 rule doesn’t apply to everyone.
Why Knowing Your Numbers is Important
High blood pressure occurs when the force of the blood being pumped through your arteries is too strong (2).
Over time, extreme hypertension can cause blood vessels to become inflamed and even leak fluid or blood.
Additionally, the condition strains the heart so much that it can eventually lead to heart attack and heart failure (3).
Other consequences include kidney failure, stroke, and death.
If blood pressure isn’t well monitored, it can lead to a hypertensive crisis
A systolic reading of 180 mm Hg or higher OR a diastolic reading of 110 mm HG or higher may indicate that a crisis is occurring.
If your reading is abnormally high, wait a couple of minutes and measure the pressure again.
If it’s the same or higher, seek immediate emergency medical treatment. Other symptoms may include a severe headache, severe chest pain, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, seizures, unresponsiveness, and severe anxiety (4,5).
If emergency medical treatment is not administered in time, the patient may suffer from :
- Loss of consciousness
- Memory loss
- Heart attack
- Damage to the eyes and kidneys
- Loss of kidney function
- Aortic dissection
- Angina (unstable chest pain)
- Pulmonary edema (fluid backup in the lungs)
Blood Pressure and Age
Although 120/80 is a good rule of thumb for adults age 20-40, it’s much too high for infants and adolescents and is often considered low for elderly adults.
40 is, in many ways, a very young age, but high blood pressure becomes more dangerous after this point. Starting as low as 115/75 mmHg, the risk of heart attack and stroke doubles for every 20-point jump in systolic blood pressure or every 10-point rise in diastolic blood pressure for adults aged 40-70.
Because blood pressure changes according to the time of day, your emotions and your activity level, it’s important to monitor it throughout the day, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with hypertension.
If you start to notice that your blood pressure is getting on the high side, consult a naturopath and nutritionist to change your lifestyle immediately. Instead of opting for quick-fix drugs, use home remedies that won’t have undesired side-effects.
How to Avoid Hypertension
Many factors come together to cause hypertension. While you can’t change things like your age, genetics, or medical conditions (like kidney disease, thyroid disorders and sleep apnea) there are many steps you can take every day to improve your numbers (6).
Start by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetable and decreasing your intake of salt. Excessive sodium consumption is of the number one controllable causes of the condition.
It’s also important to control your weight and exercise frequently as well as avoid smoking and alcohol consumption. Other factors to consider include stress levels and nutritional deficiencies.