Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood on the walls of your blood vessels. For each heartbeat blood pressure varies between systolic (when the heart is pumping blood) and diastolic (when the heart is resting between beats) pressures. Systolic is the peak pressure on the arteries and diastolic is the minimal pressure in the arteries. A blood pressure reading gives you the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure.
High blood pressure is a frequent problem in the elderly and reaches about 15-25% of the over 60 population. As we age, our blood pressure tends to increase because arteries become stiffer. The more the arteries become stiff the more the systolic blood pressure increases compared to the diastolic, which can lead to an unhealthy high blood pressure.
Normal blood pressure for health elderly people is between 90/65 mmHg and 130/90 mmHg. Changes in blood pressure can happen throughout the day in response to activity. High blood pressure in the elderly can be caused by obesity, hardening of the arteries, or kidney disease. Low blood pressure can be caused by dehydration, cardiac disease, or hypothalamic dysfunction.
It is important for senior citizens to monitor their blood pressure to ensure it remains in a normal range. Make sure that you schedule an appointment with your doctor if your blood pressure stays above 130 systolic or 90 diastolic for more than three readings or if it drops below 90 systolic or 65 diastolic for more than one reading.