Treating high blood pressure in older adults

Older adults often have isolated systolic high blood pressure. This problem is sometimes called ISH, for isolated systolic hypertension. In ISH, systolic blood pressure is above 140, but diastolic blood pressure stays lower than 90.

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.

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.

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

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