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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 and diastolic. The systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) are written as a ratio, for example (120/80 mmHg). A reading of more than 140/90 mmHg taken at your healthcare provider’s office may indicate high blood pressure. This figure is different 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.

Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your blood pressure and improve your health. For information on healthy eating for lowering your blood pressure, see:

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.

Topic Overview

In isolated systolic high blood pressure (isolated systolic hypertension, or ISH), systolic blood pressure is elevated (140 mm Hg or higher), 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.

A systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher is an important risk factor for stroke and heart disease.

Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure. Depending how high your blood pressure is and your overall risk for a heart attack or stroke, your doctor may also talk to you about taking medicines to help lower blood pressure more.

Lifestyle changes include eating healthy with the DASH diet, losing weight, being active, limiting sodium, and limiting alcohol.

Medicines include:

References

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.

Credits

Current as of:
August 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Robert A. Kloner MD, PhD - Cardiology