How Does Blood Pressure Change With Age?

Topic Overview

Blood Pressure is defined as the force that is exerted on the veins and arteries by the blood as it flows through them pumped by the heart to the rest of the body. The normal blood pressure of a health pressure is measured as 120/80 in which 120 is the systolic blood pressure or the pressure that is exerted on the walls of the artery when the heart beats. 80 is termed as diastolic blood pressure or the pressure that is exerted on the artery walls when the heart is resting in between two beats.[1,2,3]

It is quite common for people to have variable blood pressures at different points in time. In fact, researchers mention that the goal blood pressure varies significantly as one gets older. This is because with age the blood pressure tends to get elevated. This is because with age the walls of the arteries get stiff which increases the pressure. A person with persistently elevated blood pressure is said to have a medical condition called hypertension.[1,2,3]

It is estimated that nearly half the population in the United States have this condition which increases their risk for various potentially serious cardiovascular diseases. This is the reason why physicians recommend people to monitor their blood pressures regularly as and when they get old, especially those who do not have an active lifestyle or are smokers.[1,2,3] The article below highlights some of the research work done on how blood pressure changes with age.

How Does Blood Pressure Change With Age?

A team of researchers from the medical Research Council Unit for Lifelong Health and Ageing at the University College, London studied and analyzed blood pressures from a total of 30,000 people aged between 7 and 80 and closely monitored the difference in the blood pressure readings in the general population and an occupational group. These readings were repeatedly checked over time.[2]

The researchers observed that the blood pressure of a person changed in four phases. They found that there was a rapid increase in pressure during adolescence, a slight increase in the second decade of life, a steady increase in the 40s, and finally a consistent rise in blood pressure in late adulthood. It was also observed that when a comparison was made of the blood pressure readings between the general population and the occupational group, the latter had much lower blood pressures than the former and also the blood pressure rise seen in the early 40s in the general population appeared much later in the occupational group.[2]

There was also evidence that suggested that diet and lifestyle habits also played a major role in blood pressure readings. Another fact that was observed in the study was that females tended to have much lower blood pressures in their early adulthood compared to males. However, females tended to have increased pressures in midlife than males, probably due to the effects of menopause which balanced this difference out and later in life the readings of males and females were pretty much similar.[2]

The researchers also pressed on the link between the body mass index and blood pressures of people in which people with higher BMI had increased likelihood of being hypertensive than people of normal BMI. However, the researchers admit that they were not able to identify the key determinants that were responsible for this increase in blood pressures with age and believe that more research needs to be done with regard to factors that influence the blood pressure of a person as and when they get old.[2]

In conclusion, the American Heart Association states that the risk of hypertension in people between the age of 20 and 85 is anywhere between 69-86%. This clearly indicates that as people get old their blood pressure invariably increases which stresses the fact that people need to get their blood pressure monitored regularly after the age of 50.[3]

This is more important in people who are overweight or obese, have a sedentary lifestyle, or have other comorbid conditions like diabetes to prevent any complications that arise out of persistently increased blood pressures. It is detrimental to the overall health of a person that has persistently high or extremely low blood pressures. It is essential for a person to have a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, and eat a balanced diet to keep the blood pressures under control.[3]

Additionally, people who are hypertensive also will be prescribed medications to keep the pressures within normal range. It is important to identify and treat hypertension early to prevent any unnecessary and potentially serious complications.[3]

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