Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a common ailment among senior citizens in the United States. Hypertension is the result of many factors, but all of these all factors result in extra pressure against the walls of your arteries, thus making your heart work harder and more strenuously than it needs to. Over long periods of time, hypertension can lead to heart attack, stroke, a myriad of other heart diseases, and potentially death if it isn’t treated appropriately. Though our home health services at United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care don’t focus specifically on treating hypertension, we do monitor it in our EEOCIPA and RECA patients. As a result, we have learned a lot about how to help prevent and assist in hypertension management, much of which can be done on an individual basis (sometimes with medical consult).
What’s Wrong with High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is growing problem in the United States. In fact, an average of 67% of men and women above the age of 65 have hypertension, which results in nearly 1000 related deaths each year. Men are more likely to have hypertension than women in their earlier years, but more women statistically have higher blood pressure than men by the time they reach their 60s. Interestingly, the healthcare industry nets more than 46 billion dollars a year on hypertension medications alone, and high blood pressure medicines are some of the most important, sought-after drugs among seniors. Even surrounding some of these grim facts is a silver lining. A lot of hypertension symptoms and cases can be reduced with a few simple actions. The following suggestions are ways we suggest to deal with high blood pressure and how to treat common causes of hypertension in seniors.
(It should be noted that these suggestions need to be taken under advisement of your doctors, physical therapists, and dieticians to help you with your specific needs.)
1. Eliminate Excessive Alcohol
You may have heard from several studies that alcohol consumption can be a positive way to improve your cardiovascular health, and to a degree that is true. In small doses, alcohol can act as a blood thinner, which may temporarily help the heart decrease the amount of work it needs to perform to push blood through your body. However, excess alcohol or extensive alcohol use can lead to heart and other organ damage, especially in the elderly. It is best to avoid more than a serving of alcohol a day, but all senior looking to improve their blood pressure levels might consider getting rid of all alcohol from their diets.
2. Lose Weight and Exercise
Extra weight can be a huge factor in creating hypertension. The heart has to work harder to pump blood to all the areas of the body, thus increasing the intensity at which it has to work. The only proven and truly healthy ways to get rid of excess weight is diet and exercise, which serve a two-fold purpose. Exercising can strengthen the heart while you lose weight, and the lost weight will decrease the amount of pressure being put on your arteries. For seniors who feel like they are immobile, there are types of non-traditional exercises that can help you achieve these same benefits, including yoga, swimming, and dancing, meaning you don’t have to hit the gym like you did when you were 20. Check with your doctor to see what is right for you.
3. Speaking of Diet…
There are several things you can eliminate from your diet that are bad for you, and there are too many to go into in one post. We specifically recommend, however, getting rid of trans fats of any kind, most sugar, and caffeine from your diet. All of these substances have been linked to hypertension, and though as a young person you could eat whatever you wanted, these are known killers in the elderly population. Save your heart by eliminating them from your diet. You have been able to enjoy them up to this point in your life, so giving them up shouldn’t be too much of a sacrifice for living longer.
4. Stop Smoking
Everyone nowadays knows that smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Despite this, 1 out of every 8 people in the elderly population still smoke, which means that half of America’s seniors that have hypertension also smoke. Smoking is directly correlated to heart conditions and hypertension, as tobacco thins the lining of artery walls. Eliminating smoking, in combination with our other suggestions, will greatly reduce your potential for prolonged high blood pressure and other heart diseases.
Better Manage Your Hypertension
If you are concerned about your own hypertension or the hypertension of a loved senior, we encourage you to take inventory of what you can do to improve according to our suggestions. As we have stressed, it will be important to consult with your doctors, but most medical professionals will agree that implementing these things will lead to a positive lifestyle change and will dramatically help cut down the risks that are associated with hypertension. With our home healthcare patients, we have seen that taking these simple steps will help to improve your quality of life, and we hope you will have many more years to enjoy with family and friends. (800) 314-2383