Flourish: Are you at risk for high blood pressure?


High blood pressure is very common in older adults due to the changes in our vascular system. Over time, arteries become stiffer and can cause blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure affects nearly half of all adults but many don’t know they have it.

Doctor taking a man's blood pressure

Causes of high blood pressure

Some people have a greater chance of high blood pressure, but really anyone can have it. Here are some factors that can increase your risk to high blood pressure:
  • Age: The risk of high blood pressure increases with age.
  • Gender: Men have a greater risk of high blood pressure before the age of 55 while women are more likely to have it after menopause.
  • Genetics: High blood pressure, heart disease and other related conditions can be passed through families.
  • Race: African Americans face higher risks to blood pressure than any other racial or ethnic group. Experts believe this is tied to higher rates in obesity and diabetes.

Mind your blood pressure

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity increases blood pressure. To avoid this disease, try to burn the same number of calories as you eat and drink.
  • Consume less salt. Older adults are more sensitive to salt. Consider eating foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Manage stress. When your body is under stress, it releases hormones causing your heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to narrow. This causes the blood pressure to increase. To avoid this, manage your stress by doing activities that relax you such as reading, meditation or going for a walk outside.
  • Exercise. Simply walking once a day can lower high blood pressure. Exercise makes the heart stronger, resulting in it pumping more blood with less effort and reducing the force on the arteries. Walking, swimming, dancing and cycling can help reduce blood pressure.

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