Information for patients: Systolic high blood pressure
(24 January 2005: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) --
Information from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
What Is Systolic High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers the systolic pressure (as the heart beats) over the diastolic pressure (as the heart relaxes between beats). Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). High blood pressure is 140 and higher for systolic. The diastolic does not need to be high for you to have high blood pressure. When that happens, the condition is called "isolated systolic hypertension," or ISH.
Is Systolic High Blood Pressure Common?
Yes. It is the most common form of high blood pressure for
older Americans. For most Americans, systolic blood pressure increases with
age, while diastolic increases until about age 55 and then declines. About 65
percent of hypertensives over age 60 have ISH. You may have ISH and feel fine.
As with other types of high blood pressure, ISH often causes no symptoms. To
find out if you have ISH or any type of high blood pressure see
your doctor and have a blood pressure test. The test is quick and painless.
Is Systolic High Blood Pressure Dangerous?
Any form of high blood pressure is dangerous if not
properly treated. If left uncontrolled, it can lead to stroke, heart attack,
congestive heart failure, kidney damage, blindness, or other conditions. While
it cannot be cured once it has developed, ISH can be controlled.
Does It Require Special Treatment?
Treatment options for ISH are the same as for other types
of high blood pressure, in which both systolic and diastolic pressures are
high. ISH is treated with lifestyle changes and/or medications. The key for any
high blood pressure treatment is to bring the condition under proper control.
Blood pressure should be controlled to less than 140/90. If yours is not, then
ask your doctor why. You may just need a lifestyle or drug change, such as
reducing salt or adding a second medication.