If your blood pressure is high, you need to lower it and keep it under control. Your blood pressure reading has 2 numbers. One or both of these numbers can be too high.
The top number is called the systolic blood pressure. For most people, this reading is too high if it is 140 or higher.
The bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure. For most people, this reading is too high if it is 90 or higher.
The above blood pressure numbers are goals that most experts agree on for most people. For people age 60 years and above, some health care providers recommend a blood pressure goal of 150/90. Your provider will consider how these goals apply to you specifically.
Many medicines can help you control your blood pressure. Your provider will:
Prescribe the best medicine for you
Monitor your medicines
Make changes if needed
Older adults tend to take more medicines and this puts them at greater risk for harmful side effects. One side effect of blood pressure medicine is an increased risk for falls. When treating older adults, blood pressure goals need to be balanced against medicine side effects.
Lifestyle Tips to Control Your Blood Pressure
Normal blood pressure is lower than:
Daily exercise lowers blood pressure.
People with high blood pressure should limit alcohol to:
When your stress level goes up, so does your blood pressure.
Your body weight does not affect your blood pressure.
You can lower blood pressure by giving up:
People with high blood pressure should avoid foods that are high in:
People with high blood pressure should also avoid eating:
Diet changes can help lower blood pressure within a few weeks.
You can add fiber to your diet by eating:
You can keep track of your blood pressure at home.
In addition to taking medicine, you can do many things to help control your blood pressure. Some of these include:
Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat. Aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
Limit how much alcohol you drink, no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 a day for men.
Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes the recommended amounts of potassium and fiber.
Drink plenty of water.
Stay at a healthy body weight. Find a weight-loss program, if you need it.
Exercise regularly. Get at least 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise at least 3 to 4 days a week.
Reduce stress. Try to avoid things that cause you stress, and try meditation or yoga to de-stress.
If you smoke, quit. Find a program that will help you stop.
Your provider can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising. You can also get a referral to a dietitian from your provider. The dietitian can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.
Your blood pressure can be measured at many places, including:
Your provider's office
Your local fire station
Your provider may ask you to keep track of your blood pressure at home. Make sure you get a good quality, well-fitting home device. It is best to have one with a cuff for your arm and a digital readout. Practice with your provider to make sure you are taking your blood pressure correctly.
Your health care provider may ask you to keep track of your blood pressure at home. To do this, you will need to get a home blood pressure monitor. ...
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Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.