Age is a recognized risk factor for high blood pressure. While a great deal is understood about the contribution of age to overall risk profile, the issue remains complicated and there is continued debate about several key points.
For example, while the National Institutes on Aging report that more than 50% of those over age 60 have high blood pressure, there is considerable disagreement in the scientific community about what that statistic actually means.
What is the Real Link?
Some researchers believe that changes in blood vessels that occur with age explain this finding1. Others believe that experimental data points more closely to other, related, factors, and that age, by itself, is not really an independent risk factor2.
This disagreement is likely to continue into the future, as ongoing research into blood pressure and other cardiovascular topics attempt to more clearly illuminate the relationship between age and cardiac events.
What Age Means for Patients
Regardless of the outcome of these studies, it is statistically true that older people tend to have more blood pressure problems. However, this does not mean that getting older inevitably leads to high blood pressure, and the same elements that contribute to good blood pressure health in younger people still apply to those over middle age. These elements are:
- Dont smoke
- Watch your diet especially salt and fats
- Dont overindulge in alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Develop strategies to cope with stress
1Sever, P. New Hypertension Guidelines from the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence and the British Hypertension Society. Journal of the Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System 7(2):61-3, June 2006.
2Albert, et al. Impact of Traditional and Novel Risk Factors on the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Incident Cardiovascular Events. Circulation, Nov 2006.