What to Know About the New Normal Blood Pressure for Older Adults

Medically Reviewed by Carmelita Swiner, MD on April 07, 2023
3 min read

Blood pressure is the way that you measure how fast your blood pumps against your inner arteries. It is vital for people of all ages, especially older adults, to monitor their blood pressure. High blood pressure can lead to serious health complications, especially for older people.

With age, your arteries will naturally harden. This is thought of as one of the main reasons why older people are at a higher risk for high blood pressure. This is especially true since the American College of Cardiology lowered the numbers for what may be considered high blood pressure in 2017.

The new guidelines might affect you if you were on the border of having high blood pressure before 2017. However, it won’t affect you if you already had high blood pressure. For example, around 75% of men over 55 now have high blood pressure with the new guidelines. Some of them did not have high blood pressure before this change.

To be exact, the old guidelines stated that high blood pressure was anything above 140/90. With the new guidelines, high blood pressure is defined as anything above 130/80. 

The new guidelines also recommend that you get a system to test yourself at home. Usually, you can find a good system for under a hundred dollars, and some insurance providers will help you pay for them. The guidelines recommend that you measure your blood pressure a couple of times weekly and see your doctor if you notice any dramatic changes.

When you buy a blood pressure monitor, make sure to that it:

  • Fits around your upper arm
  • Has an automated monitor, and that the cuff inflates itself
  • Contains a screen big enough for you to read your results

You can also try to find a monitor that automatically transfers your data over to your smartphone. This, however, is optional.

Other than monitoring your blood pressure at home, they do not. The guidelines maintain the commonly held beliefs that the way to treat high blood pressure is through medication, diet, exercise, and weight loss.

Of course, since the actual definition of high blood pressure has changed, it may mean that you are now eligible for medication. Medication is usually prescribed for people who have Stage 1 hypertension and have already had a stroke. However, people who just have Stage 1 hypertension or high blood pressure can usually treat both of those things purely through lifestyle changes.

There are factors like age, gender (e.g. men are far more likely to have high blood pressure than women), family history, and even race that play a role in high blood pressure. People who have excellent habits can get high blood pressure, especially as we age. That is why it is so important to monitor your blood pressure and talk to your doctor if you notice any changes. 

Things that help prevent or lower high blood pressure are:

  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Exercising
  • Eating healthy
  • Cutting down on salt
  • Not smoking
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Managing stress

If doing these things does not help lower your blood pressure, you can always go on medication. This is especially true since the new guidelines have lowered the criteria for high blood pressure.

There are six major types of blood pressure medications including:

  • Diuretics
  • Beta-blockers
  • Vasodilators
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers
  • Calcium-channel blockers

If you are an older adult, it is advised to engage in a lifestyle that will promote healthy blood pressure. Maybe the changing of these guidelines will inspire you to start shifting into a healthier lifestyle if you haven’t already, or to talk with your doctor about a medication that’s right for you.

As always, be sure to monitor your blood pressure regularly and to seek medical care if you notice anything irregular.