High Blood Pressure

The Risks, and What You Can Do

High blood pressure facts

  • It is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease that you can control.
  • 70% of adults age 65 and above have high blood pressure, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
  • It means the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels is too high.
  • Develops slowly over time, and becomes more common and severe with age.
  • Not curable, but can be controlled effectively through lifestyle changes and medication.
  • May be associated with stroke or heart attack if untreated.

Do I have high blood pressure?

  • Evidence indicates that most high blood pressure has no symptoms, which why it is known as a "silent killer."
  • Symptoms like headache, changes in vision or dizziness may be related. However, they are not always the result of high blood pressure.
  • Be aware of risks that increase the chances of high blood pressure. These risks include modifiable and non-modifiable factors.
    • Modifiable factors can be corrected and include:
    • Non modifiable factors cannot be corrected and include:
  • High sodium diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excess alcohol drinking
  • Life stressors
  • Smoking
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Race (African Americans have a higher rate of high blood pressure)
  • Gender (before 64, men are more likely to have high blood pressure than women. At 65 or older, women are more likely)
  • Kidney disease

Check and record

  • Recent recommendations encourage people to check blood pressure on a regular basis, either by home blood measure monitors or at an office visit.
  • Record your readings and check with your doctor. Download your own blood pressure log on this page: med.unr.edu/aging/ngec/health-education-and-resources.
  • What is normal and what is abnormal? An easy-to-read chart at heart.org/bplevels will help you understand the numbers on your blood pressure reading.

Lifestyle changes can lower your blood pressure!

  • Losing weight and keeping your weight healthy can lower blood pressure by 1 mmHg per 2.2 lbs. lost.
  • Maintaining physical activity, at least to 90-150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, can lower blood pressure by 2 to 8 mmHg.
  • Limiting salt intake to no more than 1,500 mg per day can be expected to lower blood pressure by 2 to 6 mmHg.
  • Following the DASH diet is expected to lower blood preesure by 3 to 11 mmHg. (See References below for information.)
  • Limiting alcoholic drinks (1 or less per day for women, 2 or less per day for men) is expected to lower blood pressure by 3 to 4 mmHg.
  • Managing stress through exercise, meditation, deep breathing, yoga will relieve the emotional increase of blood pressure.
  • Quitting smoking has a high impact on blood pressure control. Get information about quitting from the World Health Association (https://tinyurl.com/who-smoking) and Sanford Center for Aging.
  • More on lifestyle changes: https://www.cardiosmart.org/topics/healthy-living.



Information prepared by Amr Alkasir, MD, August 2020

Updated April 13, 2021