Isolated Systolic High Blood Pressure
British Columbia Specific Information
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. This damage can cause a heart attack, stroke or other health problems. Your blood pressure reading is based on two measurements called systolic (the top number) and diastolic (the bottom number) written as a ratio, for example (120/80 mmHg). Generally if your blood pressure is more than 140/90 mmHg when measured in your healthcare provider’s office, it may be high blood pressure. This figure is different for the very elderly (more than 80 years old) whose blood pressure should be below 150/90 mmHg, and for people with diabetes whose blood pressure should be below 130/80 mmHg. People suffering from other illnesses will have different target normal values. For more information on hypertension, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Hypertension Canada.
Making healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure and improve your health. For information on healthy eating for lowering your blood pressure, see HealthLink BC File #68b Lifestyle Steps to Lower Your Blood Pressure, our Heart Health resources, or visit Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.
You may also call 8-1-1 to speak to a registered dietitian, Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or you can Email a HealthLinkBC Dietitian.
In isolated systolic high blood pressure (isolated systolic hypertension, or ISH), systolic blood pressure is elevated (above 140 mm Hg), but diastolic blood pressure stays below 90 mm Hg. This type of high blood pressure is more common in older adults, especially older women. In fact, the majority of people older than 60 who have hypertension have isolated systolic hypertension.
If you are older than 50, a systolic blood pressure over 140 mm Hg is an important risk factor for stroke and heart disease.
ISH can cause damage to organs such as the kidneys, brain, heart, or eyes. And it should be treated.
Treatment includes lifestyle changes and medicines that lower blood pressure.
Lifestyle changes include eating healthy with the DASH diet, losing weight, being active, limiting sodium, and limiting alcohol.
Other Works Consulted
- Aronow WS, et al. (2011). ACCF/AHA 2011 Expert consensus document on hypertension in the elderly: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation Task Force on Clinical Expert Consensus Documents. Circulation, 123(21): 2434–2506.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015
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