High Blood Pressure Often Uncontrolled
Problem Especially Seen in Elderly Women
WebMD News Archive
July 26, 2005 -- High blood pressure is common and often uncontrolled,
especially in elderly women, a new study shows.
As people age, they are more likely to have high blood pressure and less
likely to control the problem, states a report in The Journal of the
American Medical Association.
High blood pressure raises the odds of heart attack and stroke, among other
The new study showed that. Heart attacks, strokes, hospitalization for heart
failure, or other fatal heart problems were much more common among people older
than 80 with above-normal blood pressure.
About one in three American adults has high blood pressure, but nearly a
third of them don't know it, states the American Heart Association's web
A quick test can check blood pressure. Lifestyle changes (such as a healthy
diet, stress control, and exercise) can help. Many patients may also need
medication to tame their blood pressure.
As America ages, high blood pressure may become even more widespread, write
the researchers. They included Donald Lloyd-Jones, MD, ScM, of the preventive
medicine department at Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
Curious about where you stand? Here's a quick guide.
- High blood pressure: Systolic blood pressure (the first number) of 140 or
more, and/or diastolic blood pressure (the second number) of 90 or more.
- Prehypertension: Systolic blood pressure of 120-139 and/or diastolic blood
pressure of 80-89. People with this condition are at risk of developing high
blood pressure and should take steps -- lose weight, exercise, and eat a
healthy diet -- to help prevent that.
- Normal adult (aged 18 or older): Systolic blood pressure of 119 or below
and diastolic blood pressure of 79 or below.
High Blood Pressure More Common With Age
Data came from nearly 5,300 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, done
in the 1990s. Three age groups were used: younger than 60, 60-79, and 80 or
High blood pressure became more common with age. Here are the high blood
pressure percentages for each age group:
- Younger than 60: 27%
- 60-79: 63%
- 80 and older: 74%
The percentages with normal blood pressure were:
- Younger than 60: 39%
- 60-79: 14%
- 80 and older: 7%
Everyone else had prehypertension. Even people with prehypertension are at increased
risk of developing heart problems.
Blood Pressure Risky for Blacks
The study's participants were mainly white. In the U.S., blacks tend to develop high blood pressure at an
earlier age and have more severe cases than whites.
Blood Pressure Control Worst in Elderly Women
Few people (32% overall) had gotten their high blood pressure under control.
"Control" meant getting blood pressure out of the "high"
category, not all the way down to "normal."