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High Blood Pressure Treatment Guidelines - Topic Overview

Older adults continued...

If you are older than 50, a systolic blood pressure (the upper number) over 140 is a more important risk factor for stroke and heart disease than your diastolic blood pressure (the lower number).

This type of high blood pressure is more common in older adults, especially older women. In fact, most people older than 60 who have high blood pressure have ISH.

ISH should be treated, because it can damage organs such as the brain, kidneys, heart, and eyes.

Lifestyle changes might be enough to lower blood pressure. These changes include eating healthy with the DASH diet, losing weight, being active, limiting sodium, and limiting alcohol.

Your doctor may have you take a high blood pressure medicine such as a diuretic.

One problem with treating ISH is that some high blood pressure medicines can cause blood pressure to go too low, causing side effects like lightheadedness or a slow heartbeat. And older people are more likely to get these side effects. That's why it's important to monitor your blood pressure and to let your doctor know if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or faint.


If you have a blood pressure of 120 to 139 systolic (the upper number in a blood pressure measurement) over 80 to 89 diastolic (lower number), you have prehypertension. This is blood pressure that is higher than normal but not high enough to be high blood pressure. It is a warning that your blood pressure is going up. You need to begin lifestyle changes to lower your risk for stroke, heart disease, and other problems caused by high blood pressure. For more information, see the topic Prehypertension.

Secondary high blood pressure

Secondary high blood pressure treatment depends on the cause. For example, treatment of high blood pressure caused by kidney disease will also include treating the kidney problem. Even if the condition that caused your high blood pressure is treated, you may still have to take blood pressure medicine throughout your life.

For more information, see the topic Secondary High Blood Pressure.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 05, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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