If you have high blood pressure, you are not alone. Close to half of American adults have high blood pressure based on the newer guidelines (2017) that diagnose hypertension in individuals with blood pressure readings over 130/80 mmHg. Blood pressure changes throughout the day and with age.
Blood pressure fluctuates during the day, with a peak in the morning and the lowest readings during the night. It also varies based on your body position, in relation to meals, your breathing, and stress levels. Your blood pressure will obviously be higher during exercise, and return to pre-workout levels afterward.
Blood pressure also changes with age. While some believe that higher blood pressure is inevitable, and part of the aging process, research studies show that you can keep your blood pressure in control and live a long healthy life if you develop certain habits.
The lifetime risk of developing high blood pressure is between 69%-86%, depending on your gender and ethnicity, according to a report published in 2020 by the American Heart Association. The percentage of people affected by high blood pressure increases with each decade of life. For example, about 13% of women and 25% of men, aged 20-34 have high blood pressure, while 86% of women and 80% of men develop this condition by their mid-70s.
When it comes to heart health, aging correlates with an increase in blood pressure. This is because the vascular system is aging. The blood vessels are less elastic and compliant, and stiffer, promoting elevated blood pressure. The cardiac output decreases and atherosclerosis develops. The function of the lungs also decreases, with a reduction in vital capacity and expiratory flow rates.
The kidneys are affected by age as well, with documented changes in creatine clearance, according to lab tests. Digestion slows down. The motility of the digestive tract decreases and conditions like atrophic gastritis are increasingly diagnosed in the elderly.
Blood glucose levels increase. The sex hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are depleting, and the metabolism slows down. Skin loses its elasticity, and lean body mass is significantly reduced. Degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis are more prevalent and impair mobility and locomotion.
Blood Pressure Timeline (According to Age And Sex)
Blood pressure readings, based on your age and sex (source: WebMD), are as follows:
15-18 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 117/77 mmHg, and if you are a man, 120/85.
19-24 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 120/79 mmHg, and if you are a man, 120/79.
25-29 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 120/80 mmHg, and if you are a man, 121/80.
30-35 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 122/81 mmHg, and if you are a man, 123/82.
36-39 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 123/82 mmHg, and if you are a man, 124/83.
40-45 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 124/83 mmHg, and if you are a man, 125/83.
46-49 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 126/84 mmHg, and if you are a man, 127/84.
50-55 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 129/85mmHg, and if you are a man, 128/85.
50-59 years of age. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 130/86 mmHg, and if you are a man, 131/87.
60 years of age and older. If you are a woman, the blood pressure is around 134/84 mmHg, and if you are a man, 135/88.
Based on the old definition of hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or more), all of the above readings would be still within the normal range. However, with the newer, revised guidelines, hypertension is diagnosed in those who consistently have blood pressure over 130/80 mmHg. An additional 103 million Americans have high blood pressure, as measured by recent guidelines.
Can Hypertension Be Prevented, Or Is It Inevitable?
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help delay the aging process and keep your blood pressure in check, too. High blood pressure can be prevented, and if it develops, there are effective ways to manage it.
Here are the top recommendations from the American Heart Association. First, limit the amount of salt in your diet. Excess salt in the blood pulls water into blood vessels, increasing the volume of blood inside them. This process strains the walls of the vessels and promotes build-ups that narrow the blood vessels and tire the heart.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also important because high blood pressure correlates with a higher body mass index. Also, exercise daily and avoid smoking. A variety of blood-pressure-lowering medications are available for those who need a little extra help.