Did you know that as a woman once you get into your mid 50’s you are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure than a man?
As a woman – though the risk of high blood pressure increases with age – getting older does not in itself cause high blood pressure – the root causes lie elsewhere.
High blood pressure is a serious condition because of its effects – it will likely ruin your chances of healthy aging. The worrying thing is that though you may have high blood pressure – the chances are you don’t even know it.
Because high blood pressure – or hypertension, as it’s otherwise known – is practically without symptoms – it is often undetected.
In fact, it has been estimated that most people in the US who have high blood pressure are unaware that they have – and only around half of those are being treated. What’s more, of those being treated, only about half again actually have their blood pressure under control.
So how do you judge normal blood pressure and what can you do about it if yours is too high?
Unfortunately there’s no simple answer since blood pressure readings will vary based on many factors like – age, the contraceptive pill, HRT treatment, pregnancy – to name a few.
Even “white coat syndrome” can be a cause of elevated blood pressure – some people get high blood pressure just from having their blood pressure measured by the doctor!
Blood pressure is always expressed as a ratio – 120 over 80 for example. The first number is the systolic pressure, or the pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries. The second number is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure when the heart rests.
As a general guideline doctors like to see a systolic pressure (the top number) between 90 and 130 and the diastolic or resting pressure (the bottom number) below 90.
If you want to keep track of your own blood pressure – and avoid “white coat syndrome” – buy a simple device from a pharmacy, drug store or online store.
Take blood pressure readings regularly until you can assess an average – then take readings every so often to check how you are doing. Take 3-4 readings over the course of a couple of days – never just rely on one,
if you see results out of the “normal” range – you can start making your own lifestyle changes to bring it down. Number one lifestyle change is weight control. Obesity is the primary cause of high blood pressure – control your weight and you’ll be taking important steps in controlling high blood pressure.
Aerobic exercise is important for healthy aging in so many ways but you may not be aware it plays a vital role in controlling high blood pressure. The reason is a little know chemical called nitric oxide – aerobic exercise stimulates the production of nitric acid which helps keep blood vessels open and blood flow regulated.
So – try walking the dog, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and even doing the housework more briskly than usual – any form of exercise that gets you moving around and out of breath.
Diet is important in controlling high blood pressure. Anti aging nutrition means following a heart friendly diet. Take a look at what you eat and make sure you avoid foods that are high in fats – especially saturated and trans fat – as well as bad cholesterol.
Reduce your salt intake or avoid it wherever possible – certainly make sure you keep within the recommended daily maximum. Read all food labels – food manufacturers put massive amounts of salt in all sorts of products – even cakes, cookies and pastries. As a result the average American gets to consume around 7000 mg of sodium when their bodies only need 500 mg.
You’re probably not going to be surprised that smoking and a high intake of alcohol also increases the risk of high blood pressure. Stop smoking and moderate your alcohol consumption if you want to lower your risk of high blood pressure.
It may feel like you’re abandoning all your pleasures but on the positive side you’ll give be taking major steps to control your high blood pressure and boosting your immune system generally. You’ll also do wonders for your skin since smoking and alcohol both accelerate skin aging.
If you don’t control high blood pressure through lifestyle changes then you may well end up on prescription drugs. This is definitely not the easy option – drugs may control your high blood pressure but they come with some serious side effects.
More importantly you will have ignored what your body is trying to tell you. Having high blood pressure is not a natural part of the aging process – it’s a sign that we are making the wrong lifestyle choices.
For any woman who wants healthy aging and prefers to look as good as possible as they age – eliminating the risk of high blood pressure matters.